Saturday, April 5th, 2014 was a magical day, indeed! It saw the 9 Year Anniversary celebration of The Hive Gallery & Studios: a fantastic artist collective that has pioneered the expansion and power of creative energy in Historic Downtown Los Angeles’ Gallery Row. The Hive and its founder/curator/King Bee, Nathan Cartwright, is a way-paver from the dimensions of imagination into physical reality. It’s an open door to and incubator of artistic souls, both budding and established. Its high ceilinged, multiple-celled space, divided into both gallery and resident artist areas, is a perfect venue to showcase the great diversity of their talents and work.The variety of media found here is as unlimited as the mind’s eye, and at any given Hive event one is guaranteed to have a multi-media experience: painting (often live), sculpture, DJs, performance, and video projection (to name a few!) Often there is a resident Tarot card reader on the premises, and there are always some visitors in costume! Hive participants and patrons tend to have an appreciation for the whimsical and theatrical. For this occasion there was even a butler on hand to serve up the birthday cake– and condoms. One can never be too prepared!
In its characteristically communal spirit, The Hive is joining forces with a new next-door neighbor called The Jungle Gallery. The Jungle is a hip hop/street-art focused, combination retail space and gallery, currently featuring mural pieces by MEAR ONE, Vyal One, Mr. Pose and Tiki Jay One. It makes sense, and is wonderful to see The Hive embracing and supporting artists involved in the production of murals and public art. Outdoor wall works are beginning to define the identity of Downtown Los Angeles, just as they do the Arts District. In The Hive shows’ usual form, over 100 artists are represented– about half of which, like Chet Zar and NC Winters, are long-time Hive contributors. The featured artists are: William Basso, Deanna Adona, Naoko Norimatsu, Angie Carrasco and John Malloy. Artist Ron King did outdoor live painting, and there was a video installation by Sonik Mercury and Michael Allen. Be sure to check out the show if you go to Downtown Los Angeles’ monthly Art Walk, Thursday, April 10th from 12pm-10pm! in the meantime, Nathan himself was generous enough with Cartwheel Art to answer some questions about his history with and the development of The Hive over the last 9 years.Can you recall the first seed of your idea for The Hive?
Yes I can! When I decided to take on the Hive project I was faced with a big ol’ 2800 square foot space to fill with art. I knew that I wanted to put on an art show every month and didn’t feel it would be possible to do the job well and efficiently with so much space! I had been in live/work situations in the past and and remembered how busy artists can be buzzing around in a community. Thinking of a name for my gallery fell right into place!
Are there any examples you experienced that you modeled it on?
Yes, before the Hive I was part of a space called Hangar 1018. This was a 6000 sq. foot warehouse, art and performance space on the western edge of Boyle Heights back in 2001/2002. Every kind of performance, art, video music event found it’s way through our vast doors and we lived there. I learned a lot about how the artist community dynamic worked.
How has your dream evolved over the past 9 years?
Well- like a child, the Hive has grown organically into something I never could have imagined. There are goods and bads, as a business/child gets older problems get more complex, but the reward is much more enduring and rich. I love seeing my artists grow, evolve and succeed! The gallery is growing in fantastic, unique ways with our Tarot Card Decks, community projects, book ideas, animation projects and more!
Have you learned anything unexpected as a leader in fostering artistic community?
I’ve learned so much…It’s taught me to be flexible and strong. As a business grows, so does the complexity of your relationship to it. I love it like a member of my own family. I’ve learned that as an artist and a people person, I can influence my business in special, magical ways…as opposed to having the angle of “I want to start a business and be a successful!”. I came into this business as an artist, and always be one…artists make magic, so therefore,my business is filled with it.
Would you talk a little about The Hive’s developing relationship with your neighbor, The Jungle?
We just hung murals next door at The Jungle by some big name graffiti artists- Mear One, Vyal One, DYTCH 66, MR.POSE, TIKI JAY ONE, McEvoy and Rodriguez. These murals were provided by The Hive and painted at a big rock festival in 2010 called Epicenter. Artists painted murals influenced by the music played at the festival (bands such as Kiss, Eminem, Bad Religion, Bush, Suicidal Tendencies, more). The Jungle is a hip hop inspired retail store, but it also has a community center within it’s walls dedicated to working with kids to teach dance, music, poetry and more.>
Is there anything in the works that you’d like to give your followers a hint of?
The Hive is working on an ongoing book project which we would like to publish in the very near future called “A Field Guide to the Denizens of Hiveland.” I created a world about 6 years ago called Hiveland. This is a fantasy world that parallels our world, where artists who show at The Hive Gallery create avatars of their higher selves. The book will profile many of the featured artists we’ve had through the last several years- not as their artist selves, but as their higher selves in a land of bees, monsters and honey. There will be an accompanying interactive element to this book,which will happen at the gallery as well.style=”font-
Any more International collaborations??
Yes, we are going to be in Ultra Art Fair in Tokyo in October 2014 and are talking to a gallery in Germany as well for early/mid 2015.
The materialization and evolution of Cartwright’s vision reminds me of a quote by Dr. C.G Jung, the man who coined the terms ‘synchronicity’ and ‘collective consciousness:’
He who looks outside dreams; he who looks within awakens.
The open, energetic and encouraging attitudes of The Hive certainly continue to awaken creative experimentation, artistic play, and life itself in downtown Los Angeles.
See the 9th Anniversay show April 5th through April 26th!
The Hive Gallery and Studios
729 South Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Sun-Tues By Appointment