Brewing a Richer Scene

Woken early by the boom of my neighbor’s music my mood today was sour. Until, that is, I remembered…today is the Brewery Artwalk. Ever since my years as a young, wide-eyed art student, I have wanted to attend this event. Today the planets aligned and I could finally make it out to this Los Angeles artist Mecca.

The Brewery, located at 2100 north Main Street, Los Angeles, CA, is a renovated Pabst Blue Ribbon factory that has now become the largest artist collective in the United States. There are over 1000 artist residents inhabiting this beehive of creativity.

Every different type of artist is tucked away within the labyrinth of the Brewery. Painters, photographers, and sculptures create next door to architects, and jewelry designers. Dancers map out steps while across the street a musician composes his most recent score.

It is a feast of creativity and resources where any dish conceivable is possible.

As I pulled into the parking lot, which had only the one spot left that we took, I began to feel like a four year old in the Donald Duck parking section at Disneyland. I could hardly contain my excitement as we poured into the Brewery with, seemingly, the rest of L.A.

The vibe inside was decidedly festival-like, with outside stands with food, piles of maps, and droves of visitors. What is most precious about events like a festival or art walk, is the common interest in what the crowd is there to experience. To emerse myself in such a heavily saturated art scene is akin to stepping into a warm bath, comforting, relaxing, rejuvenating.

Sans a map, the droves had taken them all, I headed into the first studio I saw. Very uncharacteristically, the first piece I encountered, I could not tear myself away. I was standing in Rachel Warkentin’s studio/home, actively engaged in a stunning composition of figures and block colors. Her design training was apparent before I even joined her on the couch and inquired about her work. “At theme that runs through it is the relationship between the real and unreal, between things that are actual history and things that are figments of the imagination” explains a truly captivating, collected Warkentin, who seemed to be coasting her way through her first Brewery Artwalk. Her pieces were actively enchanting, not too crowded, not too simple. Some of the settings were completely fabricated from her imagination; others were literal translations from photographs. Both settings shown in the same space set off an enchanting energy withing the studio that pulled you into each piece and moved you around the room. I left feeling as though I had just been told an amazing story, or read a very captivating novel.

In my bliss I coasted next door to a very jolting, industrial Kevin Flint’s studio. His heavily labored over, “bullet-proof” water cooler practically pushing me back out the door I had just come through. I spun on my heels, and made a quick exit, eager to get back to my Warkentin bliss.

I wandered freely from attraction to attraction, ducking into any space that grabbed my critical eye. I spotted a Pollock want-to-be and couldn’t help myself. I had to see what this artist was about. After Jack-the-Dripper, I have lost all respect for attempts at creating splatter pieces that will never say anything new. However, as I wandered around Jill Sykes spacious studio, I was instantly humbled. My mistake. Her work was beautiful, organic, moving. Though her shapes and nature emphasis was, without question, stunning, it was her color sensibility that had me hooked. I soaked up the colors, stood in front of “Ice Blue” adrift in the crimson setting off the aqua field. Sykes had proven me wrong, lured me in with an unsuccessful Pollock attempt and held me captive with color.

After sifting through jewelry designers and architects I landed with a bang in Miriplosky’s studio, and there I could remain until they closed the doors. It was as though I had stumbled into the Wonderland of the Brewery. With a Basquiat-like sense of composition, there was a playfulness in his work that seemed to be missing in their very serious conceptual art of his neighbors. His colors and textures screamed like kids playing tag at recess. The whole studio oozed fun.

I grabbed this animated artist’s attention and sat him down for a good chat. It turns out, Miripolsky, whose depiction of Downtown L.A. has garnered quite a bit of fame, has recently been commissioned to do a permanent stained glass piece at the Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 South Figueroa Street · Los Angeles, CA 90015, called “L.A. Historama”. “It’s a 200 square foot mural of stained glass where im illustrating the history of Los Angeles, the past the present and the future of L.A. as a permanent installation in the West Hall Lobby of the L.A. Convention Center.”, reveals Miripolsky, who goes on to discuss the Brewery’s importance in the Downtown Los Angeles art scene. “My whole life is downtown, I live and breathe downtown.”

I prodded the artists I talked to about what they thought of the Brewery as a whole. I wondered if this amazing colony existed as a bubble or if impacting Los Angeles was a mission of the artists that live there. Rachel Warkentin commented on the effectiveness of the open Artwalk, “It’s really weird having people walking into your living space, but I like having this sort of relationship with the community” Miripolsky admitted, “It is so self contained, we have a restaurant and bar here. It tends to be its own little village, but it doesn’t close the walls to the rest of the community.” As one artist who is making a very noted and effective effort to enrich the Los Angeles art scene, I trusted his enthusiastic explanation.

Regretfully, I pulled myself away from my Mecca, heading back to the Donald Duck section, which had a drastically different feel from earlier in the day. If I could, I would return Sunday. It is open from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. So, because I can’t make it, you can go for me. Don’t miss this chance, it only happens twice a year. Wear good shoes, bring some cash for food, and dive right in to a feast of art.


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