Christine and the Midnight Spirographs

by Shannon Logan

I just realized that the title of this blog sounds like I’m writing about a band. I think that’s kind of funny. I’m actually writing about a woman I met in November 2008 who organizes an event called Midnight Spirographs, a small fundraiser held bi-monthly at the Far Bar in Little Tokyo that raises money for the Midnight Mission.
 
I met Christine Meinders when she contacted me to ask if she could feature some of my pen and ink illustrations that were hanging in Groundwork coffee shop in her show.

It sounded very cool, so I said yes. Christine printed some flyers, picked up the pieces, and it was a done deal. I attended the very charming alleyway Far Bar that Sunday and had a blast. Christine was buzzing around, setting up easels to display the photographs and artwork on. A small cast of DJ’s spun dance tunes while the art-loving crowd slowly filtered in. Later she showed a short film from some LA native film students.

Christine seems to have achieved her aim, which was to create an event that combined her knowledge of music and film with an effort to create something positive in the downtown community.

Christine moved to downtown several years ago from Hollywood and originally from NYC. She missed city living, found an apartment in Little Tokyo and called it home.
The first night in her new place, she saw crowds of homeless people sleeping on the streets in front of her building. Shocked, she called her landlord to ask about it.

“We’re right on the border of skid row, how could you miss it,” he told her. “You’ve got a week to break your lease. Do you want to break it?”

Christine said no she didn’t want to break her lease, but she definitely wanted to do something about it.

The way she saw it, she got lured into living downtown because it was being sold as this great emerging art scene. How could they sell it as this art community, while overlooking the glaring reality of the large self contained homeless population here? These were citizens of downtown too.  

She had heard about the Midnight Mission and so she contacted Orlando and Kathy Ward to pitch an idea. She’d like to start a fundraiser in a local venue to support their efforts. She’d feature artwork from local residents and get the homeless community involved as much as possible.

They said yes, they loved it. And in 2007 Midnight Spirographs was born. Christine chose Far Bar in Little Tokyo because she wanted to bring business into one of her favorite local places, a restaurant/bar venue in a historical building that is struggling to stay afloat.

Her biggest goal right now is staying consistent with the event. She’s been holding them bi-monthly since its inception, and has recently brought in a partner to help her organize the details of the growing event. The profits are increasing, people are donating, and regulars are showing up. They got a projector donated this month, and Christine is excited to hold her first Midnight Spirographs film festival. It’ll be a mix of DJ’s and illustrators and painters along with films from independent producers she’s met through her work as a Creative Administrator at Warner Bros.

So, if you get a chance, do something for your community tonight. Please join us at Midnight Spirographs at Far Bar 347 East 1st Street, tonight from 6-9 pm, to watch short films, view some local artwork, drink green tea hot toddies, and listen to music. A donation is suggested of $10, but they also accept food or rolls of toilet paper as contributions. Visit www.midnightspirographs.com for more info.

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