Save the Date & Preview: “Drinkin’ Smokin’ & West Coastin’ A Group Love/Hate Letter to LA – Think Tank Gallery

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Months after moving out of Downtown Los Angeles and popping up across town, one of our favorite galleries, Think Tank Gallery, is opening with a massive homecoming exhibit, Drinkin’ Smokin’ & West Coastin – A Group Love/Hate Letter to LA, on Saturday August 19th. For the month long series of art and events, that will take over the venue, the gallery has teamed up with sneaker brand Vans and others like Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. To pull it off, all of their favorite artists and producers have come along, plus some new ones.

However, this time around, Think Tank is taking everything back to their roots – both in locale and in theme. As we understand it from the press realease, Cali born and raised Lead Curator, Jacob Patterson, has focused DS&WC around the musical aesthetic that informed his taste in the arts: nostalgic West Coast hip hop.

If you could hang the sounds of Angeleno favorite 93.5 KDAY on gallery walls, this would be the show.

The aesthetic period of influence on the show is one that both locals and visitors will recall, tapping an era rife with turmoil and creativity. Creators in the show have been tasked with capturing their take on LA “from the ’84 Olympics to the Kings/Lakers rivalry of the early aughts.” Incredible sporting moments create but one chapter of inspiration from the period; art fans will revisit the riots whose 25th anniversary just passed, a particularly famous police chase, and many other memories both good and bad.

The work of local and international artists like Hueman, Gangster Doodles, Jamie Browne, Alex Gardner,, Sinzi Velicescu, and Luke Pelletier fill a list of over 70 artists that will carry guests through the dynamic space. This concept of passage through space is a big motif of the month, building transportation into the immersive experience design that is signature in Think Tank shows.

Production Designer Danny Heidner and Art Director Dino Nama have captured the archetypal LA stereotype – traffic – in every layer of the show. They use creative signage, travel brochure art catalogs, and a police chase racetrack by Ash Santos to bring crowds down a memory lane planned with traffic jams in mind.

Other installations include a Lagunitas Beer x El Silencio Mezcal dive bar designed to look like it crashed into a DMV (complete with racing games), Korean-American artist Ray Young Chu’s satirical 1992 Ktown liquor store “Ray-Mart,” Van’s surreal cloud of telephone wires with hanging custom sneakers, and a full Diner serving Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles to provide something for every guest that’s ever fetishized a part of LA history.

The Think Tank team has done this before, creating a massive art installation in the front of their 13,500sq ft space and building a lounge in the back, then filing that lounge with nightly events. The most popular such example was 2016’s Break Bread exhibit featuring Scott Hove and Baker’s Son (both of whom are also in DS&WC), a maze made out of cake, and LED screen installations. Break Bread saw over 33,000 attendees in a month, and was free to the public – like a Museum of Ice Cream or 14th Factory experience but less costly to guests. A wide-ranging audience has enjoyed Think Tank’s shows over the years due to this mindset, and they’ve expanded the idea into a rental model for local producers; the gallery now curates nightly programming to match the theme of their exhibits just as the painters create new works for them.

Local producers are creating a dynamic calendar to close out the summer – this is not the type of show to attend on opening night then forget about until the closing reception. Guests can expect events like an experiential LA murder mystery supper club, Brew Ha Ha (a comedy show drinking game), arcade game parties, Los Angeles-themed love and hate letter readings, a Bloody Gums zine and film fest, daytime dance parties, and even a 420-friendly speed dating game. These events are curated by Negin Singh of cARTel Arts (Broke LA) and Little Face (Immersion cannabis events) and will be split into Drinkin’ events, Smokin’ events, and general West Coastin’ gallery hours and events. Expect a full calendar to be released on the gallery’s website soon, with smoking events running through local dispensary ShowGrow.

August 20 – September 23
11am – 5pm

Show Opening:
Saturday, August 19th
7:30pm – 12am
Note: Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles will be served on opening night with ticket purchase.

Nightly Events:
These will be scheduled Thursday – Sunday.
Visit Think Tank Gallery’s project website for more details.

Check out the following preview photos of the exhibition by Dr. Paul Koudounaris

Scott Hove

Bong by Banjo

Raven skull bong by CalM

Anthropomorphic bongs by Zii

Installation by Nina Palomba

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