An Art Exhibit Dedicated to Hot Sauce

Conde Nast Traveler

Los Angeles Grocery by Patrick Martinez. Photograph by Valentina Silva Close

Los Angeles Grocery by Patrick Martinez. Photograph by Valentina Silva

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Los Angeles Grocery by Patrick Martinez. Photograph by Valentina Silva

Angelenos love their hot sauce—so much so that they’ve even dedicated an entire art exhibit to the subject. L.A. Heat: Taste Changing Condiments, which runs through July 12 at the Chinese American Museum, explores the impact that two locally made sauces—Tapatio and Sriracha—have had on Los Angeles, and the meaning behind their ubiquity on table tops across the city. Does anyone in L.A. even remember ketchup and mustard?

The exhibit features a selection of works by 30 local artists, many touching on ideas of cultural and cross-cultural identity. In the neon-framed Los Angeles Grocery, artist Patrick Martinez plays with the sauces' immigrant origins—Vietnamese-born David Tran created Sriracha, while Tapatio was invented in the garage of Mexican immigrant Jose-Luis Saavedra—by placing the bottles alongside Asian and Latino staples. (See if you can spot the tortillas, shrimp chips, and soy sauce.) The piece, like many others in the show, also considers the blurred lines in L.A.'s culinary scene—a true melting pot—and beyond.

Vibrantly colored and thought provoking, much of the sauce-centric artwork was created specifically for L.A. Heat; the mixed-media collection includes paintings, drawings, and installations. Don't miss the Sriracha-branded fire extinguishers, gas masks, and spray cans—a humorous nod to how much the spicy condiment has infiltrated L.A.'s popular consciousness and collective taste buds.

Chinese American Museum, 425 North Los Angeles St; 213-485-8567

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