Guide: Downtown Art Walk, September 8, 2011

Food trucks at August 2011 Downtown Art Walk I Photo by Sterling Davis

The enigma known as Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk is here. The once-a-month journey through Gallery Row, currently overwhelmed by bars-goers and non-art-like social interaction, is forced into a transition period due to the fatal accident in July. When policy changes led by a city task force were announced, immediately there were protests.

Some said no would attend Art Walk with a mandated repositioning of food trucks away from the core of Spring, Main, 3rd and 7th, a move designed to reduce foot traffic.

They came. They ate. Plus, food trucks vendors who may have first bemoaned the move became fine with being the focus of what became a food truck alley near Main and 2nd.

For many, moving eateries are the only installation sought out on the self-guided tour. That has been a frustration to gallery owners. Some close early. Others adjust to deal with the crowds. In some cases, they join the after-party.

And while the quantity, and sometimes quality, of exhibitions during Downtown Art Walk has suffered due to a partial evacuation of curatorship, there is art for those who make it about art.

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The Art Walk website promises up to-the-minute information and an art show of their own, besides what the galleries will offer during the event for Sept. 8.

Frankly, there are not a lot of cities where one can visit major museums on a particular day, then hit a few chosen galleries in the late afternoon or early evening (before they get crowded), then end the night getting a bite to eat, with the same energetic frenzy found in Downtown Los Angeles.

Here is what else you can find at Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk:

At the majors, there is "Year of the Labbit Custom Show"at Japanese American Museum, the first major solo show for Erlea Maneros Zabala at REDCAT, plus the "Cy Twombly Tribute" and "The Personal is Political" at MOCA.

In South Park, PYO Gallery (1100 S. Hope) stay with the usual hours, 10am to 6pm, with "Gone Fishin' Group Exhibition," their summer show that explores "the theme of water as a conduit for inspiration, and as a life sustaining element." Nearby, artist Terrell Moore introduces new personal abstracts at his gallery (1221 S Hope) and sculpture by Ismael Cazarez from 6pm to 11pm. It's a way to encourage those who want art to find some when shows on Gallery Row start closing said Moore, when he began staying open late earlier in the year.

Stay Hotel (636 S.Main) hosts performance art seen through street level glass-walled hotel room, first used in 2008 as a live demonstration of youth oriented hostel living. Now life-in-a -bubble shows Hippo Hotel. Performance artists, or the occasional volunteer who is offered a hippo head, improvise conflict and interaction as businessman travelers under pressure with last minute preparation in closed quarters, a concept created by Derek Doublin and Vanessa Bonet. "The Hippo's work is never done. The hippo's business is NEVER done," declares Doublin, when asked if the hippos met last months deadline. "There might be some waterfowl doing repairs and cleanup. Look for cookies in the tree and a briefcase full of hay under the Watchdog Tower."

An accompanying show with Kasey McMahon and Jason Hadley, "Tiny World: Organic Machine," continues next door at Arty Gallery (634 S Main).

On Gallery Row, Gloria Delson Contemporary Arts (215 W. 6th, #115 [Spring St entrance]) marks the change of season with an abstract group show, "Compilations," featuring different artists working in different mediums billed as "a visual collective of impressions and experiences as translated by the voices and hands of the artists."

Photographer Craig Semetko continues his street photography show at Phil Stern Gallery (601 S. Spring). "I come to photography from a writing and acting background, so my early work was often simply character studies," says Semetko in a recent interview at Downtown Art Walk. "Over time I concentrated more on design, isolating the background, and providing elements of a story with an emotional component."

Norbertellen Gallery (215 W. 6th, Suite 110) presents their Annual group exhibition "Fall International / Eleven Twelve . . . Fourteen" during Art Walk. Fifteen artists, with a mix of painting, illustration, photography and mixed media, show a range of work from Pop to Abstraction, says the gallery.

"Deborah Cornell : Biogems, Species Boundaries, and Games of Chance" opens at Los Angeles Center for Digital Art (102 W 5th) during Art Walk with a reception from 7 to 9pm. Deborah Cornell is the Chair of Printmaking at Boston University College of Fine Arts and the exhibition PR states "Of the diverse cultural influences that condition our view, one widespread influence that interests her deeply is the vision of science and technology, with its questions on the nature of the real." The exhibition reflects "differing aspects of human and technological interference, speculation, and hope."

drkrm (727 S. Spring) continues "Street: Life," a group show dedicated to street photography. Also continuing is Robert Reynolds installation :: smoke on the water :: at Continental Gallery (408 South Spring). Dialect (215 W. 6th) continues C.R.E.A.M. aka Cash.Rules.Everything.Around.Me.

Edgar Varela Fine Art has new works by Tasya Van Ree, who seeks to have photojournalism invade fashion iconography and find residency in fine art. "If Ellen von Unwerth and Helmut Newton had a love child the result could be photographer and rising art star Tasya Van Ree," wrote Huffington Post. EVFA is located at 727 S. Spring.

The DAC Gallery (828 S Main) hosts SPLICE, a group show featuring artists working with printmaking curated by Monica Martinez. The printmaking process becomes the method to "reinterpret source imagery, themes, and unique gestures," says the pitch. "In some cases the process used may compliment the artist's innate mark-making, the idea of repetition, while in some the layering of information." Opening reception will be held during Art Walk from 7 to 9pm.

The Brutique, squatting inside The Last Bookstore (453 S. Spring), present the Bohemian Society's "Above the Surface." The night will have a 12 artist group show, performance art by Joey Krebs, and live window painting by Timoi.

Photography by Edition One-Hundred and "fashion-focused audio visual content lead Fashion Happenings at 715 S. Los Angeles.

And importantly, there is Erica Friend, the young curator who organized the "Artist Benefit Show for Baby Marcello Vasquez" in August to raise funds to benefit the family. "We have bonded for life," says Friend days after August Art Walk. The family and parents showed up at the start of the exhibition, and provided a slide show with photos of the infant. Artists greeted them, then sold pieces. Art Walk regulars who heard about the show came to donate, and just hug the family. "There was lots of people and good vibes," says Friend, who moves forward organizing group shows at the 2nd Floor of The Alexandria Hotel during Art Walk. "Each one will be dedicated to Baby Marcello," says Friend.

About the Author

Ed Fuentes is an arts journalist, photographer, graphic designer, and digital muralist who covers a variety of topics and geographies in Southern California for KCET.
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The Last Bookstore is located in Spring Arts tower which is at 453 S. Spring (the numbers were transposed in the post) but the entrance to the bookstore is on the 5th Street side of the building.