Pollenate LA – The Sting of Success

The first “Pollenate LA” event at Market Lofts on May 9, 2009 was launched to “cross pollinate” LA culture.  It’s main goal: to build a bridge between the original artists who’ve long sculpted this community with their bare hands and the new Downtown residents who’ve bought into the “Loft” development hype—into the promise of a vibrant, diverse, artistically cultivated and socially liberated community. 

Archive any of the art blogs or publications like Citizen LA and you’ll learn how pissed off Downtown artists are about they and their work going largely unrecognized, rather unsold, while a new regime of hipsters moves in on their formerly cheap space, crashes their parties, and limits their former creative liberties to say bike down the Arts District streets stark naked before the private security “Barney Police” started peddling around even less tastefully attired. Artists also feel they’ve been used to lure new resies here. Surely, you’ve noticed there are few apartments, flats or condos in the new Downtown, only “LOFTS” mind you.  Nope, nobody here before but us artists doing cool, artsy stuff like “Art Walk.” So it seems developers would have all believe.  

Apart from trying to put an end to artists’ incessant whining, “Pollenate LA’s” ‘bridge’ concept was also designed to help uplift the large populace of Downtown some developers prefer to pretend has been swept away in ‘their’ revitalization currant as if it never nor does exist.  The Pollenate LA event raised funds and awareness for the Los Angeles Youth Network to benefit at-risk, displaced young people living in our streets.

New small business sponsors and FIDM students, they who give Market Lofts residents a daily fashion show from their balconies were also invited in to participate in the evening’s glamour.

The Face Book posts and emails alone attest to Pollenate LA’s stupendous first success. “This was the best event I’ve attended in LA…” wrote one guest.  Many Market Lofts residents themselves were among the most enthused, gushing praises upon resident X, the organizing resident who hosted the soiree. “We’re elevating you to God status!” Resident X’s post-event emails read.

Other Market Loft residents especially appreciated the fine art and creative elements contributed by world-class Downtown Artists that temporarily replaced the insufferable corporate-vomit décor and muz-ac tones typifying Market Lofts community areas.

 “Great job, Heidi!” residents who had cheered us on during set-up throughout the day of wrote me. (Yes, as Pollenate LA’s creative director I may be biased but I speak as true as I do freely here.)

The best resident compliment I’ve heard that brought on tears for me was this: “It was a wonderfully diverse ‘fusion’ mix that brought together groups that usually remain segregated.”  That cross-pollination inclusion was by design, on purpose and made magic happen.

Yes, a solid bridge was built.  But sadly there are they within or behind the Market Lofts HOA trying to draw that bridge up fast under lock with a moat around their faux loft fortress.

In the days following the event, as we met artists picking up their showpieces stored in resident X’s condo, er, ‘loft’ rather, page after page of HOA Pool & Community Room RULES suddenly appeared under the door.

Finally, the “Notice of Hearing” arrived by certified mail, accusing resident X of several violations. The allegations include a “large number of people in the pool area” and “playing amplified music.”  The rules forbid “loud” music. They do not specify a pool area capacity limit, but do state guests must be accompanied by a Market Lofts resident.

Residents with guests were in abundant attendance happily enjoying gourmet delicacies prepared and served by executive chef Robyn Haizlip, owner of “Mimi’s.” Turns out, there’s a rule against consuming food or beverage within 15 feet of the pool but no other residents have as yet been cited.

According to Market Lofts Security, there was not one single complaint to them that night, no requests to lower the volume, shut down the event…nada!

Nor were there any incidents among the guests. Not a drop of liquid nay blood was let spill. Even the “Beast from the East,” and other notorious art scene trouble makers comported themselves, gratefully, with the utmost decency.

The “folksy” music by Stampead, Jason Souda and Erica Hall was at low-levels barely audible above the street and construction noise from outside.  (In fact, I’m going nuts listening to sirens, traffic and some blowhard shouting at the top of his lungs into a mic continuously for hours now as I write this at Market Lofts.)

We strictly adhered to community room and pool hours. That is, we didn’t break ALL the rules.  There was no nudity in the pool area…unlike last year before that rule was announced following a barbeque with some local artists demonstrating an impromptu life drawing session.

Everyone cooperated in clearing out the moment asked to do so.  We had the entire show struck before mid-night and left the place cleaner and better reassembled than it was.

 Perhaps the most disturbing news I’ve heard yet is that last summer Market Lofts Developer, Lee Holmes, threw a pool shindig of his very own. Reportedly, residents were excluded, the place was left a mess and the pool filter was so gunked up afterwards the water turned gray and residents could not swim for weeks.  Mr. Holmes was not cited for any rules violations, however.

Certainly, Market Loft’s HOA has every right and responsibility to protect their investment and lifestyle to their choosing. It’s apparent, however, that whom or whatever is behind the citation hearing is not speaking for the majority of Market Lofts residents.

He, she, they or it is also thumbing noses against a long-standing community of artists whose image and imageries ARE being used to sell a lifestyle too costly to sustain their presence. If not for the economic downturn lid on insane rising Downtown housing costs…oops.  Yep, you just might have to put up with those whining artists’ rebel-rousing ways for awhile yet even if you do keep buying your lousy lobby art prints from Kmart is it?

Seriously, I once traveled in India on a film project where we were put-up in first class style at the finest glimmering hotels, catered to by servants and chauffeured in limousines.  I remember vividly gazing out those limo windows stunned and sickened by the degradation and pestilence in the streets beyond our 7 star gates to the point where I cried myself to sleep every night.  How the few in that Country who exist in opulence, hoarding wealth while letting the hoards struggle in rot sleep at night is far beyond me. Thank God.

Most of our American film crew in India developed symptoms of claustrophobia. We knew that in actuality we, like the wealthiest residents of India, were prisoners of these small bastions of luxury, trapped in our rooms, in the restaurants, the cars, robbed of our right to roam free without exposing ourselves to the dire risks of divided social classes.

America is a young Country, Downtown LA is a young community, there is still a chance to prevent us from developing into a Nation like India, a town like Calcutta.  Spreading the seeds of inclusion, the spoils of success, the beauty of Art, fashion, music and rich fusion of cultures, starts with YOU…right now, your “lofts,” your HOAs, your choices, your rules.

Get down now with the Downtown you came here for and shut out only they who should stay on the Westside or move back if that’s where their head’s at!

We don’t need rules Downtown like we don’t need franchises, outlet malls nor Bikrim yoga, puh-lease.  We need each other, respect for one another, harmony, celebration, individual freedom, cultural renaissance and resonance.

  Look for the next Pollenate LA party at a venue that supports community enrichment and integration. Gilmore Associates, who’ve contributed immensely to Downtown Artists, will likely cordially entertain us with the same tolerance, gratitude and dignity they’ve shown in shaping this City as a TRUE art and cultural center all along.  Won’t you?

Oh, and for crying out loud buy some local art already!






One thought on “Pollenate LA – The Sting of Success”

  1. Hey Heidi!
    Great article! What a shame about Market Lofts, I thought it was so cool of them to let the party happen. There were plenty of prospective buyers there, many of them my friends. I will have to stress caution until they make this aright. I was at the party and their behavior is very disturbing. I recalled talking to one of the organizers and I was under the impression that the party was backed by the complex as a testament to how cool it is to live downtown…oh well, it still is! I can’t wait for the next party! Keep buzzing!

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