Union Station (1950) Directed by Rudolph Maté
MORE UNION STATION: Enjoy the trailer for "Union Station," a classic film noir about kidnappers striking under the depths of the city, making the beloved train station home to a grim network of jackels.
Paper Bag (2000) Fiona Apple / Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
The former Fred Harvey Restaurant at Union Station is the location being chatted up at L.A. Observed. Clearly a worthy candidate for a Downtown Vid Pick selection.
Wheat paste by French Artist JR at Angel City Brewing in the Arts District.
Outside In: Caging Street Art in LA
By Jonathan Jerald
Art in the Streets
Through August 8, 2011
152 N. Central
Little Tokyo, Los Angeles
Art in the Streets has finally opened at MOCA’s vast Geffen annex in Little Tokyo and it is indeed a spectacular installation, certain to be a blockbuster, featuring street artists from around the world and across the decades. As curator Jeffrey Deitch intended, the show succeeds in revealing the profound impact of street art on popular culture, an impact generally overlooked (with a few notable exceptions) by the art establishment -- though not by canny marketers (Nike and Levi’s are among the show’s sponsors).
The work of (primarily) New York artists Keith Haring, Basquiat and Taki 183 are confirmed as inspirators and innovators whose impact was most immediate on the East Coast graffiti scene while Left Coast wheat paste artist Robbie Conal (whose work deserves a more prominent position in the show) is confirmed as a pioneer of political poster art, a genre enlarged and elevated by Shepard Fairey.
The wit and whimsy of the elusive, mythologizing Banksy is also on display in a particularly intriguing corner.
In all, the work of fifty artists are showcased, including Fab 5 Freddy (New York), Lee Quiñones (New York), Futura (New York), Margaret Kilgallen (San Francisco), Swoon (New York), Shepard Fairey (Los Angeles), Os Gemeos (São Paulo), and JR (Paris).
Los Angeles’s role in the evolution of graffiti and street art is, as might be expected, the most well documented with exhibits of cholo graffiti and Dogtown skateboard culture. Among other local artists are Craig R. Stecyk III, Chaz Bojórquez, Mister Cartoon, Robbie Conal, RETNA, SABER, REVOK, and RISK.
There are some notable weaknesses in the MOCA show, however. The political roots of street art are vastly underplayed. There is also a senselessly kitschy feel to some parts of the installation – one faux tenement corner, in particular, is a bit too cartoon-like, even for the most playful bombers.
Street art is all about context and reducing the grim realities of urban decay to a Disneyesque diorama, complete with animatronic bombers, does nothing to explain how graffiti exploded out of rotting city centers in the 70’s.
Graffiti artists whose work is essentially literary are shown to merge with artists whose colorful typographical distortions are found in urban landscapes on every continent, with political intent evolving into the kind of absurdist sentiment more often associated with artists with academic pedigrees (“Another Senseless Act of Vandalism” inscribed in letters ten feet tall on a Berkeley wall back in the 80’s is an engaging example not included in the show).
April 29 through July 3, 2011
216 S. Alameda
Arts District, Los Angeles
MOCA’s exhibition of Street Art is global and historical in context but just a few blocks away, at the new home of the Angel City Brewery on Alameda at Traction, there is a complementary exhibition of work.
Street Brewed focuses on contemporary street art, some by artists not featured in the MOCA exhibition, and by artists from around the world who have been drawn to LA by the MOCA show. Many of the artists whose works are featured in this smaller but more playfully anarchic show have come to Los Angeles to enlarge on Art in the Streets by seeking out wall space to create commissioned and un-commissioned murals, one of the largest concentrations of which is throughout the area around Angel City, the downtown Arts District, where the works of JR, Shepard Fairey, Nomade, Dabs and Myla, Huglife, How and Nosm, Mister Cartoon, Swoon, Kid Zoom, ROIA, Saber, and others can be found
Street Brewed, which opens officially on April 29th, includes some remarkable works, including a billboard-sized work by New York based artist Ron English, “X-Ray Guernica.” On the Alameda side of the Angel City Brewery building, Shepard Fairey has created a new mural, one of a new series that is a sly commentary on the apotheosis of Ronald Reagan in American political mythmaking. Among other artists featured in Street Brewed are Aiko, Nomade, Cryptik, ABCNT, Phil Lumbang (aka Hug Life), Ernesto Yerber, Cern, Tanner (aka Racecar 13), Brek, Eye One and James Haunt.
The informal quality of Street Brewed (located in a classic industrial-era structure), and the democratic design of the exhibition itself (all the artists were given 10 foot by 12 foot panels) seem more appropriate to the essentially rebellious and anarchic character of street art than the sterile walls of a museum. The works on display at Angel City flow out into a courtyard and there is an organic feel to their connection to the street art on surrounding walls that gives the show vitality and validity.
The anticipated day has arrived. SCI-Arc closed a deal Thursday to purchase the former freight depot it has rented since 2000. It completes a long awaited goal to own that was thwarted once, and then opened again when developer Meruelo Maddux filed for bankruptcy. More than a few people saw the 2009 filing as a window for SCI-Arc to own, not rent, their facility. Accolades are ongoing on the news of the purchase by the institution often credited for turning around the Arts District.
Not many recall the Arts District residents––who resided here before the "pioneering" SCI-Arc––who prevented the building from occupied by the Los Angeles Unified School District. In 1998 and 1999, LAUSD had their eyes on the facility to build a warehouse and kitchen that would house food service operations for the district. Hot lunch production was challenged by Arts District stakeholders and residents, citing truck traffic and the repurposing would not compliment the direction the artists-in-residence enclave
had formed in the previous fifteen years.
There will be more to the story. There are no plans for the unshaded parcels that total 7+ acres alongside SCI-Arc, part of the holdings aquired by Legendary Investors Group during contentious bankruptcy proceedings.
"L.A. architecture school SCI-Arc buys its unorthodox home" [Los Angeles Times]
SCI-Arc bought a century-old rail freight depot that is a quarter of a mile long and about 37 feet wide. The school has been a tenant in the building for 10 years, having failed in an earlier attempt to buy the property.
The missed opportunity was emblematic of the old SCI-Arc, school officials say, as a place where being ahead of the curve on architecture was prized but the more mundane business of running an institution was not.
"We used to be considered one step ahead of the IRS, one step ahead of creditors," Director Eric Owen Moss quipped.
Those days are over, Moss said. The school now has an experienced chief operating officer and a more worldly board of trustees that has set SCI-Arc on a path to solvency and a more grounded future.
From the SCI-Arc release:
SCI-Arc refers to the Arts District, or the "underdeveloped area of the city—the eastern edge of downtown," as a "the third major redevelopment zone in downtown Los Angeles along with LA Live and Grand Avenue" of which SCI-Arc becomes a "permanent player with a significant stake and role in the long-term revitalization of the area."
Also from the SCI-Arc release:
Designed by architect Harrison Albright, the depot was originally built in 1907 as two parallel 1,250-foot long twin structures stretching along Santa Fe Avenue. Albright used reinforced concrete for its turn-of-the-century design of the depot—its second use in Los Angeles. In the early 1990s, the western depot was demolished, leaving only one of the pair standing.
Just for fun: Keaton uses freight depot for "Go West"
ABOVE: "Mo(u)rning in America" in the Arts District. Photo by Melissa Richardson Banks / downtownmuse. BELOW: Shepard Fairey in the Arts District. Mural being installed on Angel City Brewing. Photo courtesy of Jetset Graffiti.
In response to Republican Party discourse on President Obama's economic policy, Shepard Fairey has a new series of hand stenciled political wheat-paste art. With help from Jetset Graffitti, the large scale commentary is debuting around the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District. It was installed last week, just in time for the opening of MOCA's "Art In The Streets."
“I was tired of people blaming Obama for the poor economy." said Fairey to those asking him about the installations. "Really, It all goes back to Reagan."
"It's Mo(u)rning in America" is located near 4th and Molino, close to the Downtown Arts District Dog Park. "Legislative Influence For Sale" graces Angel City Brewing on Alameda just south of Traction.
ADD: "Created on the street, at night, often in inaccessible places, graffiti writing is itself a species of physical performance. It’s not surprising then that images of the artists and their friends appear everywhere in the exhibition. As (Museum of Contemporary Art director and curator) Deitch noted, graffiti is an ephemeral form. Like performance art, it is often only experienced as documentation." Los Angeles Times' Review of "Art In The Streets"
The Kid (1921) Directed by Charlie Chaplin.
Today is Charlie Chaplin's birthday, so its appropriate to dust off one of my favorite downtown film locations; 1921's "The Kid" with Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan. The climatic chase and rescue was filmed around Olvera Street, nine years before it was cleaned up for tourism.
In a brief 1964 interview with cinematographer Roland Totheroh, who did most of Chaplin's films, recalls filming "The Kid" on downtown rooftops and the "Mexican" alley. Totheroh adds "Nothin' on it but the backs of some old buildings." The final scene was filmed at what is now the front of Casa California (de Sousa) and Casa Flores Imports.
The footage makes it understandable why city fathers and Christine Sterling were determined to clean up the birthplace of the city of Los Angeles by the 1930s. It was the perfect location for any slient film needing slums.
Charlie Chaplin was born in London 122 years ago today, on April 16, 1889. It is the 90th year of Coogan as "The Kid" and Chaplin as "A Tramp" tugging tears out of your eyes.
SIDE NOTE: Up the street from this location, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held today for LA Plaza de Cultural y Artes, the city’s first permanent Mexican-American cultural center.
Source includes Chaplin Film Locations: Then & Now.
South Spring Street / 2011 / Directed by Nancy Jean Carlson
Downtown resident and business owner Nancy-Jean Carlson spent Sunday at her pooch biz, Pet Project, watching cyclists ride through the Historic Core during CicLAvia. She took a few moments to shoot some low res video of riders and then did some quick effects. Now it is a nod to the 1898 Thomas Edison Company clip that captured Spring Street in 1897. (I added the afterthought title card on Carlson's clip to match the afterthought card on the Edison clip).
South Spring Street / 1898 / Directed by Thomas Edison
Ciclavia2 East To West (2011) Will Campbell
Blogger and bike advocate Will Campbell shot his CicLAvia ride going from west to east, then back, with a rear view perspective. Where did the inspiration to document his rides come from? "Oh I've been stop-motioning my commutes and rides for years," he says. "It all started when I discovered the timelapse function on my Canon point 'n shoot."
NO BLU ON THIS CREW: New York graffiti legend Lee Quinones is leading artists for a new piece on The Geffen Contemporary in Little Tokyo, expected to be completed before the April 17 opening of the “Art in the Streets."
"So I’ve put together a contingent of cats that is very talented and diverse. And we’re willing to have a conversation with the public about the wall’s history.” Said Quinones to the Los Angeles Times, adding Blu declined to participate. Joining Quinone’s crew is Futura 2000 (New York); Sano, Risk and Push (Los Angeles); and Loomit (Munich). More from the LAT:
Quinones idea of a mural about “the founding of America and the founding of our movement," referring to what is popularly known as "street art." Famous for his own work on the New York subway system in the 1970s, he also supplied some overarching images like trains or tracks. He then invited each artist to bring their own ideas and imagery to the table.
The artist was told "she was beautiful, whatever her name is" by a female admirer of the piece-in-progress who stood by watching them work. Cern replied with a smile "Well, perhaps she'll reveal her name to me."
Photos by Robyn Vallejos