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Adventures in wonder-land: The Brewery Artwalk

Adventures exploring Los Angeles continued…

Saturday, October 13, I went to the Brewery Artwalk.  The Brewery is the largest live-work art colony in the world, located on a 16-acre-compound that was once the Edison Electric Steam power plant and then a Pabst Blue Ribbon Brewery.  More than 350 artists live and/or work there, and during the Artwalk more than 100 of them open their homes to strangers to share their work. It’s really extraordinary. The last building I wandered through was a true labyrinth and I’ll probably have nightmares as my subconscious brain tries to map out where all those staircases went.

The view of downtown from a 3rd story catwalk.

The details:  If you do decide to go to a future one, I suggest getting there reasonably early, and stay until you feel full.  You really can’t see all the exhibitions in one day (and believe me, I REALLY tried). There are simply too many things to see. The crowds are not too bad, though they got bigger (and slightly more inebriated) as the day went on. Disability access is non-existent (these are residences and do not fall under the same ADA requirements as businesses).  Wear good shoes — you’ll walk a lot and there’s a lot of uneven ground. They have a “Beer garden” in the central area, which serves a bit of food as well as booze, and you’ll want to make sure you have a bit of cash with you.  The Artwalk is free, but the food/beer and other things may be cash only. You can park for free in the UPS lot across the street. If your kid is stroller bound, leave them at home (see nonexistent disability access above). This is not a sanitized-for-the-suburbs-kid-friendly type experience — nor do I think anybody in their right mind would advocate for that — so use your best judgement about bringing your young ones.  More details here:

Alright, now the details are out of the way, let’s talk about the art! I’ll be mulling over the things I saw for months.  I’ve included links where I can to share, but to be honest, it’s never the same as seeing things in real life.

My first stop was Dystopian Studios which is a funky post-apocalyptic space and artist Kevin Flint had steampunk coffee dispensers on display.

Mural by Andre Miripolsky

I wandered by Andre Miripolsky’s studio whose work is arresting and undeniably engaging.  I had one of those “OH I GET IT” moments looking at his work.  Randi Hokett creates pieces by growing minerals on canvas, and these I loved. I would hang these in my living room and adore them forever.  Todd Westover  has a floral series that are amazing and will probably wind up on scarves or handbags one day (if they aren’t there already.)  Burton Gray is worth looking into and reproductions of his work are also reasonably affordable. He has one series of sad robots:

“My Robots reflect the effect of social media on the psyche. The build-up of emotional experiences with no corresponding tactile memories (nothing linking to taste, smell, touch or sound to sight) leads, I believe, to a sense of alienation.

Check out the “Norm” piece.  I also particularly liked the Christmas Fantasia from his Fantasia Series.

Kinetic Sculpture by William Sandell

I almost missed it as it was down a corridor and out of the way, but William Sandell’s space was worth the detour. Very creepy and oddly familiar — a familiarity which may be explained by his art direction in films. His kinetic sculptures are both intriguing and disturbing.  

Other things of note for me:  Joyce Aysta’s popup laser-cut cards, Patrick Haemmerlein’s collages, Jill Sykes nature-inspired works. Two artists featured at wallspace:  Scott Froschauer with his “Word on the Street” series, which is on view in Glendale, and street artist Plastic Jesus (aka the LA Banksy).  Rob Silverman Photography featured a dramatic series featuring his Pez dispensers (which lined a shelf near the ceiling of his room) called “Pez on Earth.

Another favorite for me was Bruce Dean.  I particularly liked his paintings, and on display was a series of illustrations called “Presumptive Bestiary,” which featured mythological creatures, and which I hope will one day be available as a collection in a book (I imagine a beautifully designed leather covered volume featuring these lovelies).

There were so many other experiences  – who will make you custom doggie bandanas and t-shirts that fit you or your dog (so can match!). The room with the wall full of 1-foot square hearts, the space with dozens of tv monitors surrounding a lone tree. The laser cut wood designs from the artist whose name I couldn’t find anywhere. The room dedicated to creating “A Band of Voters,”  focused on getting young college-age people out to vote; the Human Being Society (which I am still unsure if this was art, or a cult, or something else entirely, but apparently I’m a lifetime member, I even got a card to prove it); the Hipcooks people who run social cooking classes; and the artist (I’m so sorry I didn’t get her name!) who had tangled up all sorts of cords into what looked like a piece of fabric and draped it over an ironing board (my visceral need to untangled those cords was intense).

I always find it difficult to describe my experience with art, because art taps into something beyond words, and when you do find some way to describe it, it seems to reduce the experience somehow.  If I had to attach a word to the day, it would be “wonder.” Wonder at the work, wonder at the people who create it in a country that is so ridiculously unappreciative of them, wonder at the generosity of opening one’s home and work to strangers, wonder that this exists at all, wonder that we can’t exist without it.


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