Arcana: Books on the Arts

Best Art Bookstore, August 2012

Scrambling for a last-minute gift to satisfy the boss’s Ruscha fetish or scouting inspiration for your nine-figure blockbuster? Arcana: Books on the Artscan solve your aesthetic dilemma. An expansive relocation to the historic Helms Bakery complex has made it easy to browse the store’s inventory of ephemera and rare, out-of-print, and signed books covering every visual art. Overwhelmed by the volume of volumes? Ask owners Lee and Whitney Kaplan for help in channeling your appreciation.

 

Best Coffee-Table Books, March 2004

If we’re after a coffee-table book for the delights of conspicuous consumption, we’ll go to the avowedly chic Taschen bookstore on Beverly Drive, where it’s easy to spend hundreds on a single tome. But if self-indulgence isn’t the aim, and it’s something rare or commonplace we want, from a slender spiral-bound volume on interior designer Paul Laszlo to a David Plowden photo-essay, then it’s off to Arcana: Books On the Arts in Santa Monica. The narrow space houses owner Lee Kaplan’s obsessively well-organized assemblage of 100,000 titles, many of which are in the back room, out of sight but not entirely out of reach. The store, which has been on the 3rd Street Promenade for 18 years, is like a catalogue raisonné of modern art, architecture, photography, design, fashion, and film. Here’s where we find Huntington Beach skateboard legend Ed Templeton’s photo-meditations on wasted youth near the machine fantasies of futurist architect Antonio Sant’ Elia and much, much more.