Inspiration and Discovery at the L.A. Brewery Art Walk

Well, I am well on my way into yet another quarter of classes. They seem to go by faster than I can keep track of! There ‘s always a bit of a rough transition between the madness of final projects and the maneuvering of a new class’ routine, so I am especially grateful when I hit my stride. That finally happened last week, so the hubby and I took advantage of some long awaited free time l and went down to the LA Brewery Art Walk over the weekend.

I had never been to this art walk before, even though it happens twice a year. And I really had no expectations or preconceived ideas of what I was walking into. (I find that’s the BEST way to discover new things!) I was blown away not only by the abundance of creativity and extremely talented artists, but also by the community in which the art walk took place. So I’ll start by telling you haw totally awesome this place was!

DSCN5013 The Brewery Art Walk takes place at a former Pabst beer brewery in downtown Los Angeles. But it is oh so much more than that. Since the 80’s, this complex has been home to an enormous community of artists. The buildings here have been converted into live/work loft spaces with a strict rule of only renting to artists.DSCN5020 There seemed to be a huge variety of loft spaces; some were single story, some had an upstairs loft for living, but all were equipped with their only gallery spaces. Many of them included small private outdoor areas, porches, or patios.DSCN5021 All of the open studios seemed to have a river of visitors in and out, all admiring the artists’ work.DSCN4992 This catwalk led us from one building’s roof top to the other, and was also a great way to get a lay of the land in this huge former industrial complex.DSCN5038 This loading dock has clearly become a place of gathering, and for one day it was fun to feel invited to play with such a creative group of people. They were sitting, chatting, drinking, grilling, and inviting everyone to join in. I like to imagine it’s like this on any typical weekend here at the Brewery Art Colony. DSCN5031 And I just love how the inside of the building has been transformed into a courtyard.DSCN5037 There’s even a small park right in the center of the complex, which people were clearly taking advantage of.DSCN5012I know, I know. What you really want to know is “What goes on there, exactly?” Well, for one, this:DSCN4988 These light sculptures were created by Sean Sobczak, whose gallery was a delightfully playful, and skillfully created dreamlike world that gave us our first taste of what the Brewery Art Colony has to offer. I could easily imagine these glowing creatures swimming off into a magical ocean.DSCN4990

I loved this ceramics gallery, called Me Like Clay. There are 3 ceramics artists that work together there, and the result is a wonderful collection of all sorts of goodies.

DSCN5003DSCN5001 One of the things I loved about their work is the use of bright pops of color among some very natural, organic designs. DSCN4996 DSCN4997 DSCN4993 Most of their work on display was just as practical for use as it was unique and colorful. But the gallery was sprinkled with really interesting sculptural pieces as well. DSCN4994

DSCN5004 We were delighted to wander into this gallery as well. I can say with confidence that no photo could ever do this artwork justice. What you can see is Ann Gooding’s use of color and pattern. Each piece draws you right in like a magnet. What you can’t see is the incredible process to takes to create these. From what I could tell, each one was layerd with 4 or 5 paint colors (and left to dry. Then the patterns were scraped or scooped out all the way down to the wood base in some cases. So each speck has several colors showing in rings within each other, not unlike the rings of a tree’s core, or those in a slice of a geode. The colors and textures of each piece are totally unique.DSCN5018 DSCN5017Many of the artists working at the Brewery are not afraid to play, and this metal shop was clearly a playground for Bruce Gray.DSCN5027 DSCN5029 We popped by Two Bit Circus, which invited people to come in and play in all sorts of ways. This is a bicycle powered dining table, which I’m certain I’ve seen pedaling through the streets of L.A. on some occasion. (Maybe it was at Ciclavia?)DSCN5022 These 4 people were trying desperately to solve this labyrinth, talking to each other to try to coordinate the see-saw movements needed to tip the board at just the right angle to turn the ball in down the right path on the maze.DSCN5025 There was no shortage of photographers’ work on display, but Kevin Break’s take on Los Angeles caught my particular attention. His shots of the L.A. River at sunset were my favorite.DSCN5011 We happened into Gabe Leonard’s small gallery, and were instantly taken with his expert use of shadow and movement. Each piece felt like a scene from a movie, like we had interrupted some fantastical encounter between hero and villain. DSCN5033 DSCN5035 DSCN5032 A few of the galleries had these incredibly high ceilings and fantastic bright windows. These were my favorite galleries in terms of the way the spaces felt.DSCN5040This one was David McKenney’s gallery, and I just loved his work. Pretty much all of it. I love his use of color, shape, and pattern. Structured, but still informal. And I admire the variety within his body of work.DSCN5041 DSCN5042 One of the last galleries we wandered into belonged to Dave Lefner, whose focus is reduction linocuts. This was a new process to me, so I won’t try to sound like an expert and explain it in depth. But as I understand it, it has to do with a labor intensive serious of cutouts and layering of paint. In the case of Dave Lefner’s work, the result is incredibly clean, precise, and in some cases almost photo real. DSCN5044There were plenty more artists worthy of being featured on any website or blog, and I’m sure there were many that we didn’t even get to see in such an enormous complex of artists’ galleries. Needless to say, I’m very much looking forward to going back to the next artwork and discovering more. But don’t take my word for it, go see it for yourself next time!

Do you have a favorite art genre or medium?

Dinner at Terroni, Downtown LA

Several of our favorite dinner experiences in LA have been at the Terroni in the Fairfax district, near West Hollywood. It is well designed, has an intimate atmosphere, the service is always great, and I’ve never eaten anything there I didn’t love. Admittedly those favorite dinners also included some of our favorite people, but we always had a blast and felt inclined to stay for an extended dinner and plenty of great wine. So when we heard they were opening a location in Downtown LA (closer to where we live now), we kept an eye on its progress. We finally went there this weekend to check it out, and I was particularly excited to see the interior design after seeing some teaser photos during construction.
DSCN3526 The downtown Terroni is located at 8th and Spring, in the old National City Bank building. Above the restaurant are some loft apartments, part of the gentrification that we’ve been seeing downtown over the past six years or so.DSCN3525 DSCN3524 When we first walked in, straight ahead was this awesome bar. Comfortable seats, slick, moody overhead pendant lamps, and highly designed wood set the tone. Especially striking was the under counter lighting that highlighted the texture of the wood on the bar.DSCN3522 Around the bar were plenty of bar-style place settings. It felt like an updated version of the Terroni we have grown so familiar with, and I could just imagine this space packed with people eating, drinking, and laughing the night away. But it was right about then that I realized it was 7:30 and the place was nowhere near to becoming packed. I know that’s early for dinner for some folks, but usually we find that’s prime dining time at most of our favorite places, so we always make a reservation to eat at that time of night.  I was surprised not to see more people there.DSCN3523 I loved this striking modern chandelier, set over a large table right by the window (presumably so it can also be seen from outside).DSCN3521 The hostess walked us around to the other side of the bar, where the larger dining room was located. Immediately I was loving all the original architectural details that they not only kept, but accentuated.DSCN3519 My favorite bit of history was the ornamentation on the ceiling, just the kind of thing you would see on an LA Conservancy tour. And I loved that they were still able to include the modern sculptural design and red accents that play into Terroni’s Italian theme.DSCN3513The space was equipped with huge arched windows, another original architectural detail they embraced in designing this space. I loved the way the space looked. But after we were seated, I noticed that something didn’t quite feel right. I think a big part of it was that when we first arrived, the sun was still making its way down, so there was a significant amount of natural light spilling into the huge windows. The space was so open that, combined with the daylight and the booth-style seating throughout most of the dining area, there was something reminiscent of a food court or franchise restaurant. Also, all the walls were painted white. My personal opinion is that they need to do something to darken the space during daylight to make it feel more intimate. Plus, the service was good but way fast. We went there for a leisurely date night, but instead they had us in and out in 45 minutes. Not exactly the leisurely night out we were hoping for. (We went elsewhere for drinks afterward, because we weren’t ready to end the evening yet!)DSCN3517 The still included their signature projected old black and white Italian movies.DSCN3515 And we were enjoying trying to figure out this map, which was on the wall behind me in the booth. We think it’s some sort of recipe map.DSCN3516 And my husband the foodie is always a fan of an open kitchen, so he can watch the bustle behind the scenes. I was loving that they had continued the awesome wood pattern and under counter lighting here from the front bar.DSCN3514 As we were leaving, feeling a bit rushed out to be honest, we happened by this back room. Now, this is the environment we were hoping for. Intimate but modern, and the kind of place you could really take your time chatting over a glass (or three) of wine. Unfortunately this room is reserved for large parties only, but I really wanted to have dinner there. Who knows, maybe I’ll have a birthday party there or something sometime. (Although admittedly for a smaller, intimate dinner with my husband or just a couple friends, I probably won’t go back here. I will stay loyal to my Terroni on Beverly and Fairfax.) To me, this is a fantastic restaurant environment, which I would have loved to see continued throughout the whole space.DSCN3520

What makes a successful dining environment for you?