In downtown Los Angeles, ground will soon be broken for billionaire Eli Broad’s new museum—a 120,000-square-foot trophy case for the most glittering art that money can buy, from Andy Warhol to Jeff Koons. Across town at Westwood’s ever provocative Hammer Museum, a very different kind of artwork will be finished this month—and promptly thrown into the ocean. The Mandala Project, a collaboration with Ari Bhöd, the American Foundation for Tibetan Cultural Preservation, will briefly occupy a gallery as four Tibetan monks create a staggeringly intricate sand design during a 10-day ceremony. Upon completion, the mandala will be ritually destroyed on November 7 and its sand carried via public procession to the Pacific for dispersal among the waves. Deeply meaningful but physically ephemeral, the mandala is traditionally seen as a symbol of purity. Given today’s economic realities, it’s also a refreshing antidote to the art-market mind-set—an anti-Koons for the anti-materialist aesthete.

Courtesy of the American Foundation of Tibetan Cultural Preservation