This weekend was the semi-annual Brewery Artwalk in Downtown LA where dozens of resident artists open up their lofts to the public to showcase their artwork. I had heard of the event before but knew very little about it other than you can wander from live-in studio to live-in studio checking out works of local artists so I was expecting one large building somewhere in the industrial district of L.A. that housed everything.
The artist colony is actually a sprawling, campus-style complex with 22 buildings, anchored by the namesake, former Pabst Blue Ribbon brick brewery, several lower slung warehouse-style apartment buildings and a handful of high rises, including a pair joined by a wire catwalk bridge overlooking the 23 acre complex. I had actually driven past the Brewery colony when I visited the San Antonio Winery last year but the nondescript concrete and brick buildings give no clue to all the art that is being created inside.
According to their website , the artwork output ranges far, including, but not limited to "painters, sculptors, photographers, graphic design, web design, production design, motion graphics, weaving, architecture, furniture design, lighting design,set dressing, propmaking, water features, taxidermy" and the list goes on. Pretty overwhelming. The map we received upon entry was helpful but we decided to just meander the grounds and just peek our heads in any studios which caught our fancy.
Our first stop was Sandman Creations , an exhibit of dreamy, oversized light 'sculptures' of fairy-lit, kaleidoscope sea horses and luminous dragons.
We wandered into the labyrinth of show-lofts inside a high rise building where we were greeted with highlights including the following:
Artist Ted Meyers ' Scarred for Life' wall of potato-print style prints gleaned from roller-inked body (and in one case, cat) scars. Each print came accompanied with a photo of the scarred/amputated subject (long lines of open heart surgery scars, fireworks accident and bandsaw victims with missing fingers, mastectomy survivors' scars etc) which added another layer to the artwork.
An interactive, tetris-like light installation that allowed it's falling blocks to be "caught" by art patrons' outstretched hands before tumbling into a heap once people walked away.
A pop-art sneaker display including a pair of Vans emblazoned with Hitchcock's mug and profile on each foot.
A small studio filled with intricate ball point pen murals which would have kept me occupied for hours as a kid, discovering infinite new details within the finely drawn pieces.
Church of Art performance art featuring melodies thumped out on a angel-winged horn piano.
On a more macabre bent where the 'Lets Play Dead' exhibit of headless porcelein dolls doubling as planters for fresh tulips and orchids and a sultry showing of ultra-glossy, burlesque style photo subjects including Siamese twins playing the piano and a pretzeled over contortionist.
While I loved checking out the artwork, I found myself also drawn into the artists' dwellings themselves. Outside, the ivy-covered buildings had a beautiful yesteryear quality, and inside, with lofts feeling so temporarily laid-out with non-permanent walls and 'room's divided by bookcases and beams, the kitchens--with their permanently installed appliances and sinks--felt like the most lived in part of lofts we visited and were all so artistically decorated.
I highly recommend checking out the semi-annual artwalk next time it rolls around in the fall. It's a great way to expose yourself to both new art as well as catch a glimpse of how those who live and breathe art, actually live. Admission is free and street parking is slightly sketchy (see below) yet plentiful.
April 17-18, 2010
Next Brewery Artwalk Scheduled in the fall
ombination of the former Eastside and Pabst Blue Ribbon Breweries, from which the community derives its name, and one of Los Angeles' first power plants, Edison Power Station #3.