As a city, Los Angeles gets art. You can stroll through Downtown and Chinatown, or along La Brea Blvd, and gallery districts await you. Travel to the neighboring cities of Culver City, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood, and the galleries there offer tons of contemporary finds. But what about somewhere like, say, a residential neighborhood in the city of Burbank?
That’s the unlikely but successful location of a unique art project called Let it Fly. A man by the name of Jimmy [he declined to use his last name] has given up a front window of his private residence on Clark Avenue in Burbank, one block east of John Burroughs High School, to hang one-of-a-kind works of art by artists; so far, the house displayed the talent of Free Humanity, Phobik, THEFL, KhNO7, Septerhed, and Max Neutra. Jimmy builds the wooden 8′ x 8′ canvases himself, offering them to a different artist each month for a year. Once they adorn its surface, the large wooden surfaces hang on the side of the house.
Jimmy, himself an artist, is the father of THEFL, aka The Forest Lawn, an artist CARTWHEEL talked with last year. Let it Fly took flight in 2012 with a work from street artist Septerhed and continues to garner attention from fans and interested artists. Jimmy reflects on the experience and marvels at how it all came into existence:
I don’t know how this thing came into my head and materialized through my mouth to say to my wife and to THEFl, “What do you think?’ It seemed even in hindsight a little crazy but today it seemed perfect. Standing out in front of the house with Jasmine, [a student from the nearby high school]–she’s been a big fan, people look forward to seeing stuff–so we’re standing there and I say, “You know, the framing of where it’s located is almost meant to be.”
Jimmy dedicated most of his life to acting and started making art shortly after THEFL did. He never imagined the house as the locale for something of this nature – or of this caliber.
I bought this house in 1988 but standing in front of it and experiencing it, it’s like when you go to a gallery or museum or down the street, placement can add to or take away. If an artist places something, and you kinda see someone’s got a great spot and a great wall, you’ve just got to park the freaking car and take it in. It’s not just the artwork, but where it is and how it gets there. I just kind of feel like this section of where I live was begging for something to go on that freaking wall. And now it’s happening. Now it’s a reality. These kids are walking by the high school right now and they’re pointing at it. You can see them smiling, they must be off for lunch. It’s wild. It’s just wild.
A residential neighborhood does not fit the standard location for displaying art, but Jimmy notices that the passersby respond positively to the sudden appearance of a piece of art.
There has not been one negative thing come up. The biggest problem I’m having right now is when I put the brick, the snails keep eating the paper. The snails are either attracted to the paint or the paper.
It has materialized into what I hoped it would be, which is I have encountered strangers and people I didn’t even known just saying, “Thank you, I love what you’re doing. Are you the artist?” I just said, “No, I’m just a guy. I live here.” I tell them the story. Sometimes people drive by, slow down, give you a thumbs up. There are conversations that occur. And when you take it to the next step when people photograph it, and it goes outside the space, it becomes a whole other thing. People are sharing pictures and sharing the project. I really feel that I’ve had a great opportunity to be a conduit, to allow this art to flow freely into the public. It’s free. It’s right here. It’s here for a limited time. If it makes your day, and you’re inspired, or entertained, or it sparks a thought, that’s beautiful.
Let it Fly quickly became a family affair beyond THEFL and Jimmy. Jimmy’s wife agreed to let the house serve as the location of the works, Jimmy’s daughter gave up her bedroom window where the works hang each month, and his younger son helps him construct the canvases. Jimmy shares that he often went down to the deli, and bought the artists sandwiches to eat as they sat around a table and talked. THEFL knows many of the artists participating, and as the project grew, more and more artists got interested.
The majority of the artists so far work in the streets; and the opportunity to paint something so large doesn’t come often. What’s more, the artists contribute to an area that does not see much street or public art. THEFL says:
There’s no public art in Burbank aside from bus stops and advertisements so it just doesn’t occur and this house is a great setting. We grew up there. Having it across the street from the high school, it’s easier to digest. Kids get to walk by it and are inspired by it.
Both father and son hope to organize a show after the project to display the works and also put them on sale. Jimmy reflects:
That wasn’t the intention behind getting this thing started but they’ve created the work — what’s gonna happen to the work? It’s gonna go somewhere and I would love the pieces to find a home.
For THEFL, a gallery show would mean the opportunity to showcase the talents and collective effort of different artists. That means taking the public indoors again, bringing with them the history of being on the house.
There’s a lot of variety… a lot of different styles… That’s the end goal and we’re actively looking for a gallery and a space and sponsorship and all of that. We want it to be a special culmination for this project.
For more information on the project, visit its Facebook page.
Top: KHNo’s “Mighty Aphrodite”
Photos 1-3 courtesy of Jimmy