The World’s Biggest Artist Colony
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.
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.
- Calabasas, California, May 2-3, 2009 (more info here)
- Sierra Madre, California, May 16-17 (more info here)
- Thousand Oaks, California, June 6-7 (more info here)
- La Jolla, California, June 20-21 (more info here)
Entry filed under: Painting.