The murals and street art of the Arts District have turned the neighborhood into an outdoor gallery of urban art. A lively pulse is felt as you stroll down the neighborhood and witness how the murals create this beautiful juxtaposition of old and new with the surrounding architecture.
As a regular in the Arts District, I jumped on the first opportunity I had to take a mural tour, led by Cindy Shwarzstein from Cartwheel Art, who I had heard was producing mural tours during the LACMA panel discussion that I attended last month.
As media partners with Create:Fixate, Cartwheel Art designed a sunset walking tour to highlight mural work by local and internationally known street and graffiti artists, artisan businesses and architecturally significant points of interest in the Downtown Los Angeles Art District. This tour was created to encourage an additional fundraising opportunity for patrons and guests of the non-profit Create: Fixate events who, usually come to the event when it is dark and are not familiar with seeing the area in daylight hours that has become a vibrant and exciting neighborhood with great public art in the form of murals and with new galleries and artisan businesses opening it seems every week.
I have admired the murals for over two years, and watch many of them go up while some of my favorites were unfortunately painted over. Nevertheless, I felt it was time to gain more knowledge about the works and the history of the neighborhood that has grown so dear to my heart.
The tour participants consisted of a good mix of people, everything from art enthusiasts to folks looking for something fun to do on a Saturday afternoon. We were fortunate enough to be able to walk the entire Arts District. One of my personal favorite murals shown was that of Kim West, which is located in a small alley I’ve driven past countless times, which turns out will be on the walls of what is the new location of the new museum-like destination Hauser Witrth & Schimmel. Not only is the placement of the piece in a spectacular location, but also the pastel colors used compliment the longstanding warehouse exterior on which the mural is painted.
What was so fascinating about the tour is that not only was it filled with detailed facts about the murals, but Cindy shared very compelling historical knowledge about the neighborhood and the works created. The deeply rooted heritage of the District transcends into the art and provides that much more relevance to the works. The sense of community and admiration for the neighborhood was also very apparent as Cindy shared facts about the galleries, and artisan businesses that are operating or in developmental planning stages as well as that of the local restaurants, cafes, and bars. The tour made a stop after walking the entire district at Villain’s Tavern, a hip and eclectic steampunk themed-bar with live music and performances. The Villains Tavern stop was the perfect way to end out an urban art stroll, to also make new friends, and get much more of the Arts District vibe before heading around the block, back to Lot 613 where the tour started for the Create: Fixate event that was about to begin with its musical line-up.
As a native Angelino I was mesmerized by all the art that was in this little gem of a neighborhood. The Arts District is definitely paving the way for muralism in Los Angeles. The murals and Create: Fixate together a community where creativity is a catalyst of expression and dialogue. Through festive art exhibits, Creat:Fixte new talent in a professional environment along with attracting and cultivating a new generation of art lovers. These events attract new art enthusiasts through artist involvement, community outreach, and education programs. For more information about Create: Fixate, check out their website here.
For more information about the Cartwheel Art Tours, to create a tour for your group/organization, or to book a reservation on an upcoming public tour, please contact Cindy by email here.
Top Photo: The Group that continued on for the extended part of the tour stops to have a photo taken of them in the American Hotel parking lot in front of the murals by the UTI Crew. Photo: Cindy Schwarzstein
Cindy gathers the troops to start the Cartwheel Art Mural Tour. Photo: Michelle Berc
First steps down Imperial Street with mural by ROA to right and “Urban Bigfoot” by Ron English (assited by Vyal One). Photo: Michelle Berc
The group makes a stop to view the mural collaboration by Zes MSK and Vans The Omega. Photo: Michelle Berc.
Mural on the American Hotel by UTI Crew with Nuke, Petal, The Black Light King and french artist Mateo. Photo: Cindy Schwarzstein
Another photo with some of the mural tour participants in front of Tristan Eaton’s Mural. Photo: Cindy Schwarzstein