Art? Los Angeles? Of course. We’ve got the MOMA, we’ve got the Getty, we’ve got the Chinese Theater….everyone knows the Los Angeles art scene.
There’s no debating that the art scene in Los Angeles is already famous, what with all its museums, theater, film, and public art installations. But what about the beauty inside a glass of freshly-brewed beer at a fashionable new microbrewery? An amazing food truck experience? A perfect plate of chubby pork belly or ooey gooey french fries? An interactive art installation of cut-out letters on the floor in a gallery in Chinatown? A little-known art studio in the up-and-coming Warehouse District? A mural painted surreptitiously by a graffiti artist?
And even, might I add, the bust of a deer painted hot pink?
This is the kind of art that isn’t being built up around the MOMA—the kind happening inside cups, on streets, on plates, on floors, on canvases, on the sides of buildings….the kind that’s happening inside the worlds and lives of the millions of Los Angelinos and their quirky, eclectic spirits.
And this is exactly what the SpringHill Suites new campaign, Art is Everywhere, wants us to celebrate.
The Art is Everywhere platform is a social media and community-based campaign aimed at helping local artists connect with their clients, community service programs, schools, and local fundraisers. For the past five years, SpringHill Suites has made a commitment to bring art into their hotels and communities through programs like ArtNight, an annual gallery-like event which provides local artists the opportunity to showcase their work on the hotels’ walls and lobbies, Art on the Road, a social media campaign that tracked local art through ten cities across the United States, and Save Art!, a partnership with Fresh Artists, a national non-profit, to bring art supplies and art programs to under-resourced schools throughout North America. These programs have been not only innovative but incredibly successful: last year, for instance, the Save Art! program raised over $50,000 in funds and used the money to assemble and deliver art kits for schools and students.
That is the kind of campaign I can appreciate.
To properly kick-off the event, SpringHill Suites invited me—along with a small group of other writers, art critics, and PR reps—to come to Los Angeles, hang out with local art curator Mat Gleason, and celebrate the diversity of public art installations, independent galleries, foods, drinks, and architecture. When I found out that Mat Gleason has been coined by L.A. Weekly as “a cranky, self-exiled gossipmonger,” I had a feeling this wasn’t going to be the kind of trip where we hopped on and hopped off buses all day.
Let me tell you that it definitely wasn’t.
We met the most eccentric of gallery owners and artists, we got our hands greasy, we explored the quiet streets of Chinatown, we ran in to DJ Skrillex setting up his sound studio (if you don’t know brostep, he’s kind of a big deal), we sought out Shepard Fairey’s visual masterpieces stenciled on the sides of buildings, and we learned how to brew beer.
Here’s our itinerary, should you find yourself in Los Angeles with the itch to find art outside of the beach or in places you might never expect:
We started our morning looking at the beautiful, the odd, the unusual, and the artistic. Oh yes, and, lest we forget, eating. (Not a bad way to start a morning, right?).
We began our walk in historic Chinatown and the Chung King Road Galleries, where a row of storefronts have turned into a number of funky art galleries. Mat took us to Coagula Curatorial (this is where we played with the cut-out letters on the floor), the Red Pipe Gallery, the Good Luck Gallery, and the Charlie James Gallery (among others), and, since it was still early morning, met a number of the curators and gallery owners. From there, we walked to food-chef extraordinaire Roy Choi’s newest brick-and-mortar restaurant, Chego’s, which is basically hidden from the main street and required walking through a shopping mall to get there. We ate a lot, from the Korean meatballs covered in sesame seeds and placed atop fried polenta to the seasonal charred veggies, a combination of squashes covered in salsa azul and fried shallots in lemon. If memory serves, of the eight of us that day, we went through something like five orders of meatballs, four orders of the ooey gooey french fries, and many bowls of vegetables.
Though a nap probably would have been nice right around then, we headed instead to the Arts District to experience Los Angeles’ street art. I’ve always been intrigued by street art, from the way it’s surreptitiously done by moonlight, to the way it can transform from public defacement to celebrated art work literally overnight, to the way the artists skirt from location to location with spray cans and enormous stencils. I’m intrigued by the way it forces us to question our notion of what art actually is—what it is, what it isn’t, and what it could be. We walked by Mister Cartoon’s huge wall murals, Shepard Fairey’s stencils, JR’s eerily realistic renditions of eyeballs and faces, and graffiti-artist-turned-muralist Nuke’s paintings on old buildings. We stopped in Art-Share, a local non-profit that features large exhibition halls and art education programs (and yes, the pink deer head), and talked to some of the local artists who were setting up their exhibitions for an upcoming show. Then, we walked along District Gallery, a part of Los Angeles’ Arts District devoted entirely to artists who have worked and supported the development of the downtown arts scene.
And then, the beer.
When we reached Angel City Brewery, which is in the heart of the Arts District, I was parched from walking around in the hot sun all day, so nothing sounded more refreshing than a curated beer tasting. We tried Angel City’s wheat pilsner, a dry-hopped pilsner with a smooth body, the Angelina IPA, and a newer brew, a bourbon barrel-stout. We toured the brewing rooms, talked to the brewers about hops, and tried a little bit of everything.Our trip to Los Angeles didn’t last more than a day, but at the end of our tour, when I took a Lyft ride down to Manhattan Beach to get an ice-cream cone and watch the sunset, I paid just a little more attention to the way the bike wheels turned as they slid through the sand on the beach. The way the volleyball arced over the net, the way the surfers ebbed and flowed with the waves. I noticed the colorful houses all along the shore, the fish popping in and out of the water, and the way peoples’ voices drifted over the long horizon.
I know I came to Los Angeles to support Marriott’s new campaign and to learn a little bit more about art, but I think I left with something more than I bargained for: a little three-word hashtag that I promised I’d take into my daily life as a reminder that life really is beautiful.
Show the world that #artiseverywhere too, won’t you?
Article and all photographs by Kristin Winet.
A special thanks to Ogilvy & Mather and the SpringHill Marriott Suites Manhattan Beach for hosting my stay.