Of course, being back in the city means getting back into the routine of enjoying all the fantastic things to do here during a hot Summer. There are too many things to choose from, but one of my favourites is the Downtown Art Walk. (Previous post on it here.) It’s the second Thursday of every month. Strangely, it is still not very well known, even though it is one of the best activities I can think of to do to blow off steam at the end of the day. Or for the whole day. The art is all over the place, in that there is good stuff mixed in with a lot of, uh, other stuff, and so it is fun to hunt for it. Two reliable highlights for me, and maybe the most fun of all, are (1) the fact that these galleries are housed in lots of fantastic old and decayed spaces in old buildings in the core of Los Angeles’ centre. In fact, I often find myself looking at and enjoying the spaces more than the art. (2) The people. Representatives of every Los Angeles archetype, and several more besides, can be found wandering the streets of downtown during the Art Walk… and squeezing into the galleries and sampling the free (or cheap) wine, and generally rubbing shoulders with everyone else. How often do you get a wider cross section of Angelenos out of their cars and, horror, walking and, horror of horrors, mingling with others? Worth going just for that. There’s a brief history of it here, written by Bert Green, (hey, I did not know that I’ve been coming to it almost since it started) and the website for the Art Walk is here.
I wandered around some of my favourite galleries and studios, looking at the art, people, buildings, and spaces. Everything changes so much between monthly events and so it is always a pleasant surprise to learn which gallery will interest me most on the day. You can run into lots of random things as well, particularly random music. There’s a good reggae band that plays at the 5th and Main intersection, which has the largest concentration of galleries nearby, and every now and again, there’s a random band of musicians that wanders downtown during the art walk, making a joyful noise. A bit of googling suggests that it is the musician’s collective, Killsonic. Happily they came by at a time that allows me to show you both groups. Short video clip below.
Most often I do this wandering of the galleries on my own, but I was joined for some of my wandering by a friend and new colleague who is a newcomer to LA – Michelle Povinelli. (An occasional reader of this blog, and an electrical engineer (well, really a physicist – we have several lurking in EE here at USC) of note- we’re lucky to have her at USC!) She’s recently arrived in town and who was willing to be shown how wonderful LA can be if you get out and walk and poke around in the corners. (As LA is a city that hides so many of its treasures, and suffers so much from bad first impressions, it’s important to try to show this aspect of the city to new arrivals early, before they get swamped by the background noise of (1) The ignorant continually repeated clichés about how LA is all impersonal, concrete, and dangerous, and so forth – sure, it is if you don’t get your lazy butt out of your stupid car (2) People’s ignorant whining about how not-like-city-X it is (3) etc., etc.) It was a pleasure to show what I could, and -as a result of good questions- find out more about places that I’d neglected to investigate in the past.
Among the things I saw that really stuck with me was the Faith Machine piece by Robert Reynolds (I blogged about it in the previous post) in the Bert Green Fine Art gallery, and some lovely drawings in the Pharmaka gallery across the street. They have an exhibition on called Marks on Paper right now.
Of course, no evening downtown looking at great uses of old spaces is complete without a visit to the fantastic Edison, one of my favourite haunts. A Hendrick’s and tonic, some music and energy, a bit of Metropolis projected on the wall, resting of the feet, and then off to the subway and home!