This past weekend’s BloomfestLA was another fitting tribute to the late Joel Bloom, a DTLA fixture and proprietor of Blooms General Store until he passed on July 13, 2007. Bloom was a community activist who improved safety, lobbied for bus service, better street lighting, and eventually helped win the Arts District designation. The corner of Traction Ave. and Hewitt where his store occupied space for many years is now officially known as “Joel Bloom Square.” It is the still the (beating) heart of the Arts District.
Bloomfest has grown since its inception 5 years ago. This year it boasted 4 stages instead of one, drew thousands of friends to the square, featured live painting, and the neighborhood galleries grew to 6.
A spectacular retrospective called “25¢ a Square Foot “ was curated by Shaun Thyne (a long-time resident artist) for the newly re-opened Warehouse Gallery at Art Share LA, at 801 East 4th Place on the corner of Hewitt. The title refers to the price many of the participating artists paid for their rent in this once-neglected industrial neighborhood “back in the day.” This exhibit features paintings, prints, posters, photographs, and sculpture covering the period from the mid-70’s through the 1990’s by artists who lived in the district.
This extraordinary collection includes work from many well-known artists of the day, as well as some lesser-known, but very talented and dedicated folks who still call this area Home. This abundance of artists, many of whom have lived in the neighborhood for close to 30 years, has created the most interesting, fun, quirky, creative and stimulating neighborhood in all of Los Angeles. This show exemplifies their spirit!
Included in the show are Shepard Fairey, Lili Lakich, Rick Monzon, Robbie Conal, Paul McCarthy, Robert Reynolds, Richie Kessler, Rollo, Jett Jackson, Lilli Mueller, Rick Robinson, Emmeric Konrad, Suzi Moon, Rick Mendoza, Ted Meyer, George Joaquim, and Johnny White to name but a few of the 120 artists in this massive exhibit of 250 pieces. Also featured in the exhibit are event posters and memorabilia from the many playhouses, clubs and speakeasies that used to populate the neighborhood. The gallery is open Wed.- through Sat. 2-6 pm. The exhibit will run through Sept 30th. with occasional music, screenings and live performances planned throughout the run of show.
Up the street at 704 Traction, a 30-year resident of the Arts District – Lili Lakich -occupies the original location of the Museum Of Neon Art, which she co-founded in 1981. Her acclaimed signature style of assemblages composed of metal, found objects, and brilliant neon tubing has been seen in countless galleries and museums, in films and television, and numerous books. She shows and creates all of her work in this vast 5000 sq. ft. studio, filing it with amazing eye –candy, all made in this unusual and difficult medium. From larger-than-life Elvis pieces, to several self-portraits, a few political statements, and dozens of smaller affordable pieces to brighten anyone’s home, it is truly an Arts District treasure. The Lili Lakich Studio is currently open by appointment only, and is well worth the trip!
The newly opened District Gallery at 740 East 3rd also features a focused group exhibit- “Portrait of the Arts District,” created by 10 local artists. The singular topic of the Arts District Scene was mostly created in the past few weeks in plein air style, and shows the vitality of the neighborhood through the eyes of its inhabitants. Spearheaded by Alex Schaefer, a Hive artist, this charming exhibit is a project of the LADAD Space. Stop in any Wed. through Saturday afternoon, and President Tim Keating will tell you stories of the old days while selling you some very fine art.
If you’re ready for something different, head to The Box Gallery, at 805 Traction Ave, where renowned artist Paul McCarthy has created a large installation space in collaboration with his son Damon. A conceptual multi-media installation based on the film “Rebel Without a Cause,” the 8 rooms, 11 videos and strange sets are all intriguing and thought provoking. (and for adults only.) The gallery is run by his daughter Mara.
One of the things that sets the Arts District apart from everywhere else in the city is the number of large urban murals and wheat-pastes that are allowed here to due to it’s special designation.
Photos by Cindy Schwarzstein, Richard Kessler, and Dale Youngman
Lightnin’ Woodcock performing on stage by Art Share LA as one of the many musical performances throughout the day.
Art Share LA
Art Share LA
Lili Lakich Neon Art Studio
The Box Gallery
Kim West mural is one of the many murals in the Arts District by Joel Bloom Triangle.
Shepard Fairey “Peace Goddess” mural is one of the most recognized.
Dabs & Myla and How & Nosm