Sunday, April 18, 2010

Brewing Up Local Art: Semi-Annual Brewery Artwalk

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.

Brewery Artwalk
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. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Trash Cans and Lazy Ox's: TRASHED Coachella Exhibit & The Lazy Ox Canteen

I didn't know rubbish bins would be the thing to inspire me to start blogging again after a long lazy blog haitis but after checking out Global Inheritance's TRASHED Coachella Exhibit  on Friday night, I felt compelled to write about it.

The one-night only gallery event showcased crafty, custom-designed 65-gallon trash bins before they are put to use tidying up the polo fields of Coachella next week. It's been 4 years since my last Coachella experience and while I'm not up for the exhilarating yet hot/dusty/exhausting 72hr excursion anymore, I did want to get some sort of Coachella fix this year--even if it was just checking out the artsy "official trash bins" of the festival. The online flyer I saw highlighted the featured artists of the couple dozen bins on show--not being well versed in the who's-who of the garbage can art world, I didn't recognize the names but was intrigued enough to make the trek to POVevolve Gallery on Chung King Rd's gallery row in Chinatown.

Ugly Shoe and I were greeted outside of the gallery with a trash can refashioned as R2-D2. Inside, we joined the arty types sipping on free wine and Veev cocktails milling amongst a smattering of colorful bins. Some were more impressive than others; there was a cool splatter graffiti-styled bin, another done up in a 70's Holly Hobby look and a fun, brightly painted bin inviting trash-throwers to "express yourself" with a pile of chalk for passerby's to write their own 'expressions' on the trash can.

My favorite was the psychedelic, Beatles-inspired bin which brought to life the lyrics from "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds", including real tangerine trees, a girl with sparkling sequined kaleidoscope eyes, yellow and green flowers made of cellophane and a river studded with milky glass beads.

While the exhibit was an amusing 20 minute novelty, it was a great excuse to head to the downtown area to kick off a Friday night. Since we were in the area, on a whim we drove to Little Tokyo to have dinner at the Lazy Ox Canteen afterwards. I had heard good reviews and have been wanting to try the restaurant but with no reservations on Friday night, we weren't sure if we'd get the chance. I called to inquire about the wait as we were parking and was greeted by a cheesy but somehow reassuring "Lazy Ox Canteen, how can I make your day better?" While the first-come, first serve bar seats had an hour wait, the friendly hostess said we could have a heat-lamped table outside if we waited 10 minutes.

The menu (sparse on the printed menu, but accompanied by a chalkboard overflowing with daily specials) is a modern mix of French, Mexican, Japanese and Catalan cuisines. We ordered the assorted pickles (crunchy and dill-flecked, they were a great accompaniment to cut through our heavier dishes)  dashi marinated yellowtail with avocado, hash browns and creme fraiche and with the waiter's recommendation, the pig trotter crepinette off the chalkboard specials for appetizers. The chunky-cut yellowtail was delicious the traingle toasts of hash browns added some crunch and texture. I was expecting the trotter appetizer to be a pulled pork filled french crepe but instead, it came as a pig trotter patty served over creamy mashed potatoes. A surprise but still really tasty.

The braised beef paleron entree we ordered was a dark, fork-tender hunk of pot roast sitting on mellow cream of wheat and kumquat slivers. Braised in red wine, the meat was almost caramelized crusty outside and deliciously yielding inside. We finished off our meal with a large ceramic skillet of bubbling, buttery crusty-topped black and blueberry cobbler. Delightfully rich in flavor and fullness, the meal lived up to the hearty and earthy expectations you'd expect from a restaurant with 'crispy pig ears' on their menu and the word "Ox" in their name.