Brett Goldstone: He Left Law School in New Zealand and Found Himself at the L.A. River



"Telling L.A." premieres Tuesday, December 5 with four L.A. arrival stories.

KCET Departures has been asking, "What's your or your family's Los Angeles arrival story?" Today, during this holiday week, we go to the video archives to hear from artist and L.A. River activist Brett Goldstone. His response predates our recent questioning, but his response fits right in.

"I live in Lincoln Heights in the studio two blocks from the east bank, just north of Chinatown. I didn't know I was an artist, but I knew I didn't want to be a lawyer. I was at law school in New Zealand.

"I've drawn all my life and had dreamed all my life. And it didn't seem that I was going to be very satisfied following a professional course.

"So I dropped out and ran away; traveled around the world for three years and ended up in Los Angeles and started practicing art.

"I was actually a cartoonist illustrating for L.A. Reader and the Weekly and the L.A Times when I first came. Did that for about a year but it was a lot of work and not a lot of money.

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"So I ended up going to trade tech and learning to weld. It just seemed like a natural progression from assembling things with nuts and bolts, because I went to sculpture pretty quickly after I got a space big enough to work at it.

"I didn't have any manual skills prior to that but its really not that difficult to sort it out, you know? You're downtown there's a lot of junk lying around, you haven't got a lot of money for materials and so you make do with what you have. That's how it worked.

"We did pieces that reflected the area too. I think everyone was kind of interested in interpreting the sounds and the environmental interpretations of being in the big city.

"And L.A. was different than New York; it's an unpopulated big city. You're down there in these vast expanses of warehouses and there's no people, so its not like New York and SoHo where you have this co-mingling of people and buildings and technology. Down here was like a desert. It was like a wasteland, really. Just like the River is still today."

-- Brett Goldstone
(As transcribed from "1/3: The Gate Maker," from Departures: LA River. View the full selection below.)

Photo: Via Departures

This post originally appeared under the headline, "Arrival Story: Brett Goldstone"


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