Wontons and Hipsters

Bummed from missing the last art walk downtown, I was primed and ready to gallery crawl when I caught wind of Chinatown’s art walk. The only two ‘walks’ I have ever frequented have been Downtown L.A.’s and Chelsea’s in Manhattan. While both are versatile, brilliantly energetic, I didn’t mind adding another art walk under my belt.

Off to Chinatown it was!

I arrived much later than fashionably and decided to get a bite to eat. Regretfully, I landed in the Foo Chow Restaurant, 949 N. Hill Street. It was, to put it plainly, awful. I know I’m not a food critic, that I know and write art, but readers should be warned, this food was terrible. The overly greasy egg rolls came with ketchup and spicy mustard just squirted onto the plate; no sweet and sour sauce in sight! My orange chicken was chewy and devoid of any real flavor. I ate two bites, denied the offer of a doggie bag and hit Chinatowns newly debuted art walk.

Foo Chow was right on a courtyard of sorts, with a DJ right outside and hipsters streaming by. I followed them directly into the gallery next door, The Fifth Floor Gallery 502 Chung King Court, which was featuring a show put on by the non-profit, Humanity Uniting. The art was a little sappy but the cause was good. I braved the very narrow staircase and headed up to the little loft, where I found little treats of handmade good, thrown bowls and funky toothbrush holders. I took my time picking up the pieces, playing with the zippers and enjoying the craftsmanship that went into these fun, pocket-sized works of art. My favorites were these little pouches called “Um Bags” by Josh Jakins. These amazingly well priced ‘purses’, if you will, unzipped to lay flat, and were made of a felt like material. I pulled myself away from these trinkets and headed back out to Chung King Court, the hub of the art walk.

It was packed with live performers, DJ’s, videos, and plaid. Given that the Chinatown art walk is not yet mainstream, the crowd was manageable. That meant that I was able to meander gallery to gallery and actually see the art. While I love a good art walk for the networking, the crowd, I do get a little frustrated at how little I get to see that actual work. Last night I had the opportunity to spend as long as I liked with each piece. Though I also realize that the more press this event gets the quicker the viewer will lose that artwork-viewer time.

While in one gallery I stumble upon a striking pink staircase. Should I go down there? Why not? When viewing art my theory is, just do it until someone says don’t, so I headed down the vibrant stairs and stumbled upon woven yarn pieces and paintings on tracing paper with human hair. It sounds strange, definitely, but the pieces were too pretty without it. The artwork of Alison Foshee and Katina Huston made this Jancor/McCorkle Project sing with little kid excitement. There were bright colors and fun, overstated textures.

This kind of attitude permeated the art in Chinatown. It was fun, it was loud, it was installed in the middle of the floor. I went on to rest in front of Michelle O’Marah’s fabric rainbow and stare up at baguettes hanging from a boat in “Picking Up the Pieces” by Jeremy Mora. Never before have I seen such a concentrated amount of assemblage and fiber art, and I absolutely loved it. It was hip, and contemporary, and just plain fun. These galleries, these artists, didn’t take themselves too seriously, or try too hard and the whole night felt effortless.

I ended the night getting everything I wanted in Steve Lamberts new show. His work is like pop art meets the MONA meets Lawrence Weiner. He made these huge signs lit by bright light bulbs, with brilliantly catchy phrases like “everything you want, right now” and “look away”. I left Chung King Court with the distinct feeling I had just had the most fun I’ve had in over a year at an art event. I didn’t leave pondering the meaning of life or the place of painting in the contemporary art world, but I did take away a basic satisfaction art should, but rarely does provide.

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