As an ex-New Yorker who is brand spanking new to L.A., the concept of downtown being a dead zone is quite strange. And having only driven through late at night (going the wrong way, on a one-way street, natch) I was curious to see what an L.A. downtown art walk would be like (held every second Thursday of the month from 12 to 9). Art Walks in Seattle’s Pioneer Square were fun, but were too often filled with "Look ma, I has knitted you a rainbow hat!"—a/k/a bad hippie art. And the Chelsea Art Walks in NYC were impenetrable and thick with snobbery and unintentional comedy: rich people wearing all black, posing seriously in front of pictures with their heads cocked just so to the sides. L.A.’s version proved to be far more pleasant and interesting—exhilarating even. Won't you join along as I take you on a photographic tour?
A fellow recently-imported New Yorker joined me via the red line subway, which she reported “was clean and pleasant, with no rats, and not too many people,” and arrived unscathed at our meeting place on Fifth and Main at the Spring Arts Collective Gallery, where the highlight (for me anyway), was a Cabbage Patch doll’s decapitated head in a cage by Kim Ye, and a series of twisted paintings where all the twee-looking subjects appeared to be peeing at the adjacent Clair Obscur Gallery.
That artist, Mari Araki, was part of an exhibit called Storybook Paintings. Also in that collection, were a series of extremely well done Tim Burton-esque fantasy paintings by Dany Paragouteva that seemed like they should be in a strange children’s book.
Around the corner, there was a room with eerie red lighting; and string of drawings formed a narrow hallway, which led to… a guy playing a harp. There were a cluster of beat up TVs, improbably, old toy Gizmos.
Said a guy sitting nearby, “Come back at 8:30, it’ll all come together.” We found out later this was the Soul or System. (Get it? Solar system! Or Soul system! Gah.)
Down the street we found a few huge photo realistic paintings. One was a close up of a hand being scorched by a lighter. The color was dark and rich and very carefully done. Then we noticed a man sitting in a rusty chair next to the paintings; he looked like he was part of the exhibit. It turned out to be the artist himself, Josh Talbott, who explained that he had done all the large painting in a studio in New York when he was hobbled with a broken leg, and then had to ship the monsters out to L.A.
There was also a giant gas mask.
And there was this piece (we couldn't figure out who did it.)
There was also a fundraising 'garage sale' called Selling In by Felis Stella (of which the proceeds went to Alzheimer's Association and the Cancer Research Institute). For sale: "Grandma's sewing machine."
This female-centric show was miles better than the one titled, "Where The Girls Are," featuring tiles of overexposed Dita Von Teese and a "performance art" piece by Tiffany Trenda called "Death of an Icon," in which she dances to Madonna's "Open Your Heart" video and then gets shot. The piece ends when a curator puts a card next to the bleeding artist and calls it a work of art. Just, no.
We made our way around to the other street, and found a clusterfuck of people on the sidewalks. It was after 7 by now, and the area was starting to fill up. There was a guy playing the sax next to a giant skull; a few feet away, a guy and his friend got to work redecorating a sofa with spraypaint and markers.
We were lured into one place with the promise that spoken word poetry by people from Greenwich Village would be on offer; instead, it seemed to be a community meeting about the overabundance of police in Skid Row. Next door, an exhibition of homeless art was mostly bad, except for a few pieces, including those of Darlene Altemeier.
Off the beaten path, a sidewalk sign with an arrow led us to Crewest, a pretty fab all-things-graffiti subculture shop. They had a minimalist funk band jamming the back room; someone doing screenprints; and a smorgasbord of interesting, politicized anti-police art, including the biting piece of commentary above and at right.
Last, but not least, the store Pussy & Pooch had an exhibition in its back room of cool animal paintings—like this pug.
But that, it turned out, was not the piece de resistance. That turned out to be cuts of fake lawn that you can buy from Petapotty.com, in case you don't have a yard. They can come complete with a hydrant.
Here's a Petapotty in action.
And with that image, I bid you adieu!