Downtown Los Angeles has been cultivating a thriving underground art scene for years, but l was unaware that DTLA is the home of the world’s largest Art Colony. The Brewery is an artist enclave containing over 500 live/work lofts in converted industrial space off the 5 Freeway on Moulton and N. Main. The complex spans 23 acres of warehouses, annexes and two 4 story buildings connected by an open catwalk for those brave enough to cross it.
The Brewery gets its name and some of its space from a converted Pabst Brewery plant, and one of its oldest buildings is an old Southern California Edison substation. I wonder if the Tate Modern in London used the Brewery as inspiration for their move into an abandoned Power plant.
Twice a year artists in the Brewery open up their lofts to patrons and invite them into their creative space. In addition to seeing amazing works of art, this is a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the artists themselves, a departure from the sterile view of a gallery.
I did not know what I was getting into when walking into this commune, and for this first time visitor, ignorance was bliss. My husband and I wandered into various lofts, the first being Gallery 618 E.
This space had video installations, art dedicated to Chess and some interesting sculptural pieces. The most entertaining work in the gallery was Holly V Hood’s “Red Coat of Paint”, literally a coat painted red with two birds perched on the shoulders. This piece was next to the ubiquitous “Little Black Dress” which was a small figurine mounted, matted and framed in another literal yet funny take on fashion. It got a chuckle out of me, but there were audible groans from some folks who were clearly looking for something more substantive in their art. The best part about the Art Walk is if you don’t see something that speaks to you, walk next door and you surely will.
This place epitomizes the sensation of Culture Shock. I’ve never seen anything like this. I saw photography, sculpture, clothing designers, landscape artists, graffiti art, performance art, dolls configured as planters, graphic art, comics, culinary artists, etc all in a dizzying labyrinth of buildings. Once we picked up a map we were able to focus somewhat.
I was particularly impressed Scott Miller, a mixed media artist who creates the most beautiful textural paintings that evoke raw energy in a stunning way. His “Wallflowers” series look like exploding fireworks, while his Landscapes subtly remind me of Rothko’s later works. The studio of James Hill featured some larger than life steel female silhouettes that would look absolutely captivating in a modern Hollywood Hills home.
In the realm of jewelry and crafts, I visited the studio of Elyse Graham of Elephant Heart jewelry. Elyse is not only a fantastic designer specializing in uniquely polished jewelry inspired by nature, but she’s also active in the local community through volunteering her time in schools teaching children about art and creativity.
The Brewery’s Art Walk occurs in the spring and fall and I look forward to a return visit to this unique space featuring some of the most creative individuals in Los Angeles. I can guarantee repeat visits will continue to amaze and astound even seasoned patrons of this event.