Los Angeles

Around the Counties: Ed Fuentes Shares His View on L.A. County Arts

June 14, 2006.jpg

This week columnist Ed Fuentes gives us his opinion on the arts and culture scene of Los Angeles County.

The photographer and monthly contributor of the Downtown L.A. Art Walk guides, also shares a few of the projects he is producing on his A View From a Loft blog.

Unsure of what you should do this weekend? Fuentes urges you to visit an L.A. gallery in West Hollywood that will soon be closing its doors after being active for more than four decades.

 Ed Fuentes

What makes Los Angeles County so attractive?

It's big. You've got every terrain in L.A. County, except desert, and because of that I think it has a lot of influence on artists. They interpret the landscape and it gets into their work. So, you would have a regional artist look at [Los Angeles] as land or a city that they were raised in, and their art becomes very personal. Then say you would have a national artist come and live here, a transplant, and they see the same landscape but completely different. That's what's fascinating to me. To see how Los Angeles County is reinterpreted.

What are some of your favorite art venues?

I consider downtown Los Angeles an art venue in itself because you have so many places that you can walk to in one day, which is what I do when I do the Art Walk preview. You have the split personality of downtown where things are changing but yet there are parts of it that have stayed the same for almost 100 years, and that's rare. To see old and new working together is rare. The public space is its own art venue that happens to have galleries and major museums.

If you you had a full day to go to museums and galleries, you can go from the Geffen [Contemporary at] MOCA, to the Japanese American [National] Museum, and then to the Arts District and see street art, skip over to the historic core, see a couple of galleries like EVFA gallery, and then walk around downtown... To me that's fascinating. And that's without art walk, I mean that's like if you take a day off somewhere.

Downtown Los Angeles. | Photo: Trader Chris/Flickr/Creative Commons License

You update your blog, View from a Loft frequently. Aside from contributing to Artbound, can you tell us about another project you are working on?

Let me tell you three.

  • The original point of View From A Loft was to gather photographs and [the] backstory about downtown to make a set of collages influenced by murals, in terms of design and composition. I'm slowly piecing that stuff together finally. after six years. Eventually it will be part of the blog and I will have stories about it.
  • The other stuff is taking coursework to talk about how art helped develop downtown. But in [doing] that I'm finding more things to write about extensively. That isn't even going in the blog. It's just being written about and a part of the coursework which is in development now. It's really taking an academic look at what I've been writing about in six years. I'm reinterpreting everything academically.
  • I've been writing so much that I've actually tried to make a little bit of time and go back and do graphic design and photography and I just started to get back into it. It's been a good break to get away from graphic design cause it's what I was doing from age 24 until six years ago. I'm trying to balance it all out.

Do you see any art trends in L.A. County?

Street art. I think it's because it has an assertive, artistic base. I don't know if it's a trend but it's just that it's been accessible and it's a good time. I mean they're putting up stuff as quickly as they can. You're getting a mixture of regional and outside artists, people like JR from France or people from the east coast. Also, because of the mural ordinance, there's a lot of attention on it. But the one thing about Los Angeles is that there's so many points of view. It's hard to say what a trend is.

Ron English mural in the Arts District of Los Angeles. | Photo: waltarrrrr/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Can you recommend an art event for our audience to attend this week?

I would say to go to the Margo Leavin Gallery because they're closing after 42 years. And if any place really had a pulse on trend maybe sometimes even created it, it was that gallery. I mean if you're really interested in art, it's almost like you have to go there as a pilgrimage to a place that really was making a difference because you're losing a major gallery that really helped define Los Angeles as an art center, and on Robertson where there were so many galleries at one time. It was really an art center because they combined really innovative art with commercial success. They sold art. How miraculous is that?

I would say if you had only one weekend to do something this month that would be the thing to do. Go pay homage.

'Knife Slicing Through Wall,' sculpture by Claes Oldenburg, located at the former Margo Leavin Gallery location on Hilldale Ave. | Photo: Rocor/Flickr/Creative Commons License

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Top Image: Cliftons on Broadway. June 14, 2006. | Photo: Ed Fuentes.

About the Author

Melody Soto is a journalist living in the San Fernando Valley.
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