On July 11th, Cartwheel Art hosted a free Cartwheel Art tour of the neighborhood as a tie-in to the grand opening of Arts District Flea, a permanent indoor flea market in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles. Cartwheel Art’s Founder Cindy Schwarzstein led the tour drawing attention to the murals and street art blossoming among the alleys, walls, lofts, and offices of the Arts District. In addition, she provided the group an opportunity to learn more about the Artisan businesses and planned developments in the neighborhood. Part of the tour component included meeting artists, artisan business owners and a graffiti historian. The tour group was filled with novices and veterans of the neighborhood, including the “Dirty Girls,” nicknamed after the fearless ends they have gone to appreciate the murals they love.
After leaving the gates of the Arts District Flea, and viewing a few of the murals on the building of the ADF including a recent mural by Ser LA and Steve Martinez of UGLAR Works, we began our journey along the street towards The Container Yard. Outside of The Container Yard the group was introduced to artists Angelina Christina, Ease, and Sek who were guest speakers for the tour that all collaborated on murals recently at this new emerging mixed-use creative space converted from an old mochi factory. (Mochi is a delicious chewy Japanese sweet made from bean paste. It’s often wrapped around ice cream, and is so good!). The artists described to the group what inspired them for this mural and a bit about the process before taking a few group photos with us.
As we rounded the corner, Steve Grody, graffiti historian, author of Graffiti LA and a guest speaker on the tour, pointed out the tag of Cuatro Flats engraved in the sidewalk, a vintage specimen of graffiti he attributed to the 1970s, one that the untrained eye could easily overlook. The fact the tag coexists just a few feet from recent art by Angelina Christina, Ease, Sek, Mar, The Love Crew, and James Haunt illustrates the layers of cultural heritage in the Arts District, the traditions that are being built upon, redefined, and expanded.
The tour group then headed towards the entrance of The Container Yard, home to new murals by female graffiti artists such as Blossom, Petal, and an incredible mural by Drew Merritt and Skeam BWS in addition to many others. Ash Chan, owner of The Container Yard and his girlfriend Pop invited the group to come in and have a good look around. Entering The Container Yard felt like falling through a rabbit hole into another world. Hidden from street view, the labyrinth of rooms, complete with a huge industrial fridge from the days when it was a working mochi factory, houses the work of local and international graffiti crews – CBS Crew, UTI Crew, OTR Crew and NBC Crew, solo works by artists from some the crews, and well-known mural artists such as Vyal, Septerhed, Zes MSK, Brek, Tank and James Haunt. In the courtyard, a pop-up fashion boutique for Vntgpop and an organic vegetable grower are enclosed in industrial containers. The vegetables grown here are then sold to the local Arts District Farmers Market.
As we made our way around the block, we stopped at Damon Martin’s studio. Martin opened his doors to us and showed us the paintings he is working on for his forthcoming exhibit in China align with describing his connection with the elephants for the Endangered projects he has been working on including the mural he painted close to Joel Bloom Triangle.
As the tour came to a close, we made our way back to the Arts District Flea to check out the vendors and goods, including wears from Northeast LA staple thrift store, Saint Vincent De Paul, and art in the new Modern Multiples gallery space along with work by Emmeric Konrad, George Joaquim, Michael Hope, Julie Arnoff, Shana Hagen, Lillian Abel and Lili Lakich. When we arrived, SoundWaves Radio/KPFK dj Frank Foreal was spinning and a dance party had commenced next to Julie Arnoff’s booth, who was painting a portraiture of a flea market goer.
The evening was another addition to the growing, vibrant community in the Arts District. As both newcomers and seasoned residents came together to soak up the murals the walls of the Arts District have to offer, everyone learned a little bit more about the neighborhood.
Robert Holgun, Reporter with ABC7 Eyewitness News went live for television viewers at the Flea Market.
Artist Julie Arnoff painted live at the Flea Market. Here she is with a model and the work she had just created.
Saint Vincent De Paul booth at the Flea Market.
Artist Mikolaj with the work he was exhibiting shown. He also spoke about his mural located in the front of the ADF building.
Germs at the Modern Multiples booth.
The Modern Multiple booth.
The work of Michael Hope of Roial Photography.
George Joaquim with the work he exhibits at the Arts District Flea.
A neon piece of art by Lili Lakich of Lili Lakich Studios.
Some of the tour group with artists Angelina Christina, Sek and Ease after describing their mural collaboration.
Artists Angelina Christina, Sek and Ease in front of the mural they collaborated on outside of The Container Yard.
Steve Grody explaining to some of the group about graffiti lettering and tagging while looking at the work of the Love Crew.
Inside The Container Yard
Inside the Container Yard.
Inside The Container Yard here with the work of female graffiti artists Petal and Blossom.
Some of the group inside The Container Yard.
Reversal work artist Sek had just created inside The Container Yard
The mural work of Bandit inside The Container Yard.
One of the Containers painted that houses the pop-up space for Vntgpop inside The Container Yard.
The Container used where they are growing produce that is being sold locally at the Arts District Farmers market.
Steve Grody showing the group the work of Brek & Tank on the gate and Zes MSK on a wall outside of The Container Yard.
Steve Grody showing the group the work of Cuatro Flats engraved in the sidewalk.
Work in progress at Damon Martins studio for his upcoming show in China as seen during our visit with him.
Damon Martin in hist studio discussing his work with the group.
Damon Martin showing us more work while talking to the group in his studio.