This weekend was the Fall Artwalk at the Brewery, one of the largest artist-in-residence complexes in the world.
If you haven’t heard of it, it’s in the industrial district northeast of downtown, in a large complex/campus comprised of an old Pabst brewery (hence the name), an old Edison power plant building, and many warehouses, all of which have been converted into artist lofts. Not those crappy “artist lofts” that were just built five years ago in mixed-use spaces with cardboard walls…these are vast concrete caverns of loft spaces, the kind I’d like–you know, the kind you can just hose out when it gets dusty. And it does, because it’s right by the railyards and the freeway.
During Artwalk the majority of Brewery residents open their doors to the public so people can see their art–and, hopefully, so they can make some sales. It’s tough for a lot of people who put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into their work all year long, in relative privacy, to have hundreds of people tromping through their door, assessing their life’s labor, often snapping photos without permission, then turning and walking out. But they do it because they know it’s important for the public to be exposed to art and the work that goes into it.
Thousands of people show up twice a year for Artwalk. Next week, I’ll profile a handful of artists I found and discuss their work; as for now, here’s kinda a look at the scene. You should go next time. Just go early–the parking lots fill up early! Especially the parking lot I snagged–UPS HQ, next door, opens their parking lot for Artwalkers. Check out whose spot I got.
Usually the Downtown Artwalk routine is: 1) look for parking; 2) give up and park in a paid lot; 3) hit the first gallery serving small nibbles and wine; 4) wax poetic as you stare at the gallery’s art like you knew exactly what was going on here; 5) finish your wine, finish your looksee; 6) hit the nearest gallery with wine and nibbles; 7) repeat steps 4 through 6. Tomorrow, however, is a special day at the Artwalk, as there are at least two events within stumbling blocks of each other.
First up is a Cookie Showdown, 6pm at the Mercantile Building (620 Main Street). Seven bakeries, from Freshly Baked (the official cookie of the LA Derby Dolls) to one of my favorites in the city, Platine Cookies (their platinos are amazing, people, amazing) have their cookie horses in the race for the Cookie Showdown Trophy. Unless you want to be one of the lame-os not eating a cookie (c’mon), pick up a full sampling pass for $5; this buys you one cookie from each of the bakeries and also gives you voting rights in the Audience Favorite category. This is easier, and more immediately satiating, than voting in the general election.
After OD’ing on cookies: time to dance, natch. Hit up a few more galleries (for the art, of course) on your way over to the Rosslyn Lofts (451 S. Main Street). There, you’ll find The Must Bar – recently and tragically and probably illegally evicted from their premises – hosting a pop-up dance party (hm, I guess no one uses the term “one-off” anymore) from 7pm to 1am. (By the by, their case against Julie Rico, who was behind their post-midnight eviction, currently is in arbitration; according to the owners, it’s a “[c]ase of extensive damages but looking good!” Yay.).
According to Skylight Books, Gay LA is its bestselling GLBT title since 1996. And, really, LA was pretty gay at some point. To remind us about gay LA, Roots of Equality organized LAvender Los Angeles, a two-week long celebration and analysis of LGBT history and culture in our city. The exhibit currently is open at The Exchange which, conveniently, also will be open during tonight’s monthly (and free!) Downtown Artwalk. Just off of 5th and Main, right next to the Must Bar, the exhibit highlights LA gay, bisexual, and transgender culture from the 1880s to the present. And by “LA,” I don’t mean “West Hollywood” – I’m talking about Pershing Square, bars along Main, and Le Barcita, endpoint of last week’s protest and rally. After you’re done taking in a little local pride color, join the other hipsters, yuppies, artists, “artists,” loft dwellers, and their lovely dogs as they roam the streets in search of other open galleries in the gentrified sections of the Historic Core.
If you miss the walk, the exhibit is open until November 20 and has fairly generous hours. There are other LAvender Los Angeles events at the space, including a walking tour of prominent gay locales on Saturday. The full schedule can be found here.
The LAvender Los Angeles exhibit is located at The Exchange, 114 W. 5th Street (between Spring and Main), and will be open today from 12pm-9:30pm. Other galleries on the Artwalk have their own operating hours, and, judging from past experience, the streets really crawl after 7ish.