The World’s Biggest Artist Colony

April 20, 2009 at 3:23 pm 2 comments

Last weekend I went to the Brewery Artwalk in Los Angeles. Quite an experience.

The Los Angeles Brewery is the world’s biggest artist colony. Echoing the city’s renowned urban sprawl, the Brewery is itself a sprawling landscape. It’s an entire city block (and a huge block at that) filled with 22 buildings, large and small, old and new, crammed with studios of artists and all sorts of other creative-type people like graphic designers, clothing designers, jewelry artists, etc.

The Brewery contains a total of 300 studios. About 150 of those were open for the spring 2009 Artwalk, a twice-yearly open studio event.

And by event, I really do mean Event. The folks organizing the Artwalk seem to be pretty disorganized about a lot of things (maps? signs? parking lot attendants?) but one thing they do well: they do get the word out! The packed parking and crowds of people made it seem more like a big sporting event than an art event. Pretty amazing, really.

Michael Salerno's studio at the Brewery in Los Angeles

Michael Salerno's studio at the Brewery in Los Angeles

As is usual when I go to open studios, I came away with very mixed feelings. I’m deeply envious of those huge, light-filled, high-ceilinged studios (like the one pictured above). I’d love to be part of a large “art community”. And yet I’m astonished and puzzled by how unprofessional most of the artists acted during the Artwalk, how poorly a lot of the art was exhibited, and how disorganized the whole event was.

Don’t even get me started on the artists. Well, OK, but you asked. First off, DON’T burn incense (or scented candles) in your studio. My gentleman friend and I were driven away from several studios by the overpowering fumes. And if we did manage to cross the threshold, how about at least acknowledging our presence? I mean, this is supposed to be about welcoming the public into your creative space, and maybe even selling some art. How about making it possible for us to tell who’s the artist and not feel like we’re crashing your private little party? Use the other 364 days of the year to socialize with your buddies. And is any of this stuff actually for sale? Is it really so difficult to put a few price tags up? Oh well, I can go on, but you get the gist.

What I really want to know is, in spite of all the negatives, how they manage to generate such enormous crowds. I’d kill for crowds like that at my weekend art festivals, which typically have the same number of artists (150-200) but normally get much less foot traffic. How do they do it?

Hey, speaking of weekend festivals, I’ve got a bunch coming up. You should come to them! I promise they’ll be much easier to navigate than the Brewery, and the artists will be on much better behavior. Definitely no incense.


Entry filed under: Painting.

New painting: “Winding Road” Come to Calabasas for some art


  • 1. mosaicmoods  |  April 27, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Hey, I wish I could have gone to the event but my back isn’t up to it (the crowds, the walking). Thanks for telling us what it was like.

    I’d love a big studio like that too but do you really think it’s in the nature of artists to surround themselves with so much competition? LOL. Just that I wonder sometimes. I am such a lone wolf about my own art. I really LOVE seeing at other artists’ work but wouldn’t want to “live with them” ha ha. Did it seem natural or unnatural to you? A colony of sorts?

  • 2. Jessica  |  April 28, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Your post made me laugh – leave it to artists to put on a big, albeit disorganized show! I used to have a studio in an old mill building and it didn’t work for me. Like mosaicmoods said, I was too much of a “lone wolf” to really relax and let go in that environment. When I’m in the zone, my verbal communication skills go out the window and I always felt a bit of anxiety about the socializing aspect of the building (all very nice people, it was my issue not theirs). I may not be a social butterfly when I’m working, but when it’s showtime I come out of my shell and the best part about being there was the open studio events. I always made a point of welcoming every visitor and offering a variety of price points (price tags a must!). Hopefully many artists will read your post and think to themselves “maybe I should save the incense for later and have a private party AFTER the show”!

    Thanks also for commenting on my blog. I agree with you that the first layers of his painting were better than the finished product. I replied to your comment on my blog.

Barbara J Carter

I'm an artist. I make paintings with dots.

I work in acrylic paint, in a couple of distinct styles: landscapes and abstracts.

Native to California, I've lived elsewhere and only recently returned to my home state. I now live in Los Angeles.

I mostly show my art in outdoor festivals in California. I also occasionally show my work in art galleries or open studio events. You can see an up-to-date list of upcoming shows on my website (click here).

I invite you to sign up to receive my free email newsletter, in which I list my upcoming shows and talk about my latest work. I send it irregularly, a few times a year.

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Why I call my landscapes neo-Pointillist landscape paintings

A bunch of my abstract dot paintings

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