LA Center for Digital Art opening and Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk

After an uneventful flight, Tracey and I arrived in LA Thursday around 11:30 and grabbed a PrimeTime shuttle to our home away from home in downtown LA, the O Hotel on South Flower Street. The guy driving the shuttle was texting as he was driving, always a bit disturbing since there was quite a bit of traffic on the LA roadways and I didn’t want to die in  flaming wreck, but we made it there safely. After settling into our  renovated boutique room, we headed out to find the LA Center for Digital Art, so that we’d be able to make it to the opening without difficulty on Thursday night.

Although the Orbitz website had said that the hotel was within 1/4 of a mile from the LA Center, this didn’t prove to be the case, as we walked further and further into the Historical downtown looking for the venue. We passed the LA Central Library, with some lovely sculpture in its grounds, the Biltmore Millenium hotel, the jewellery district, and many, many art deco office buildings and hotels from the 1920s and 30s, now being renovated into “microlofts” in an effort to get people to move back into the downtown core. After having asked some of the purple-suited security personnel peopling the downtown streets, we found the Center, then headed back to the ranch, first stopping at the “Cathedral of Faith”, a theatre-turned-church in the downtown core, and marveling at the Spanish language newstands selling years old papers and magazines – the news ain’t so new …

After resting for a bit in the room, we hit the pavements again around 5 and walked back to the area bounded by 3rd and 8th avenues, and Main and Spring Streets, the Downtown LA Art Walk epicenter. One of the first places we hit was the Art Park, a parking lot converted into a market area for artists of all kinds. We had an interesting chat with a man in a wheelchair about his multi-media art work which reminded me quite a bit of the painting of the 1950s artist Ivan Albright, I think his name was, who worked on one painting for more or less his entire life. These canvases were rich with objects and layers of luscious paint, including a skeletal Mona Lisa. In fact, skeletons, hearts and graffiti seemed to be the order of the day in downtown LA, as well as mannequins.

From there we explored innumerable art installations, sculptures, paintings, craft works, T shirts, jewellery, in over 49 venues, including converted deco banks and office buildings, the Spring Arts Tower, the Alexandria and the Rosslyn Lofts. In each gallery or building many artists had set up their wares, and musicians and performance artists were everywhere, inside and outside on the streets. The Alexandria had a great mezzanine bar where we spent a bit of time admiring the wooden sculptural relief decorations. The crowd here was huge. Back on the streets again we entered a couple of small venues, packed to the rafters, one with black light and music pulsing, and a DJ slinging nuevo-disco tunes out front. The LA Center for Digital Art was packed, and my piece was front and centre, right in the middle of a long wall. In a strange coincidence it is hanging right next to a work by American artist Pat Swain, who was also an Artist in Residence at the Babayan Culture House in Ibrahimpasa, Cappadoccia last year. We spent quite a bit of time there checking out the work and observing the crowd and chatting to Rex Bruce, the Gallery Director. The night was great for people-watching, the streets were absolutely packed and the mood was festive. The whole scene reminded me of Artropolis in the old days, but on a much more massive scale – it was terrific. The energy and the vibe were really frantic.

At some point in the evening my feet began to kill me and we hopped into the Portofino Cucina Italiana restaurant, newly opened on Main Street, for some risotto and pasta, after which we strolled back through the darkened streets to the hotel.

Read more about the Downtown LA Art Walk here.

See a sample of pics in the post from Sept 13 and all my pictures here.

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