Secret garden

A breakthrough sculpture collection in Long Beach
David Lansing

In the burgeoning East Village Arts District of Long Beach, there's a brand-new sculpture garden featuring works from Mexican, Chilean, Cuban, and other Latin American artists that make up the most significant collection of such sculpture in the country. And the best part? Hardly anyone knows about it yet.

In a region loaded with superstar cultural institutions, the almost 10-year-old Museum of Latin American Art has kept a low profile ― that is, until now.

Late last year, museum directors launched the first phase of a massive $10 million expansion. While some parts of the effort will take time to bear fruit, the sculpture garden is ready to go.

Enter through a blue gate into a walled patio where water gurgles from low fountains. An improbably huge metal knife and fork by Gustavo Lopez de Armentia of Argentina hangs on a raspberry-colored wall, while exotic animal-like creations ― a Cubist bull and a stubby bronze cat with the neck of a giraffe ― perch on planters filled with palms and cactus. Visit in late afternoon, when the long shadows of the cactus against the garden's walls are works of art in themselves.

Info:  Museum of Latin American Art (closed Mon; $5; 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach; 562/437-1689)