As Downtown Los Angeles experiences revitalization, it attracts many artists from around the globe, from world-class professionals and hopeful beginners. Last weekend I had the chance to visit Downtown L.A.’s Arts District, a lively hub for art that beautifully captures Los Angeles’ creative and dynamic energy.
Located a few blocks away from Little Tokyo and the L.A. River, the Los Angeles Arts District hosts vegan restaurants, breweries, cocktail bars and many, many museums. 20th-century abandoned warehouses have turned into stylish stores, galleries and museums. People stroll around leisurely, eating ice cream from the famous Salt & Straw, walking in and out of boutique bookstores or taking pictures with their friends and pets. Music floats in the air, mixing with the constant hum of laughter and conversations.
As I made my way through the neighborhood, I began to notice the ever-present graffiti. The brick walls along the streets were mostly covered in painted words, symbols and faces. Some of the graffiti were new and some looked weathered, but none of them felt like a violation of its surroundings. Instead, I felt like the graffiti were an important part of the neighborhood and gave the Arts District its unique character.
After wandering for a while, I decided to go see an exhibition that recently opened at an internationally-known contemporary arts gallery called Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, housed in a restored 100,000-square-foot flour mill complex. The exhibition included six installations by the late Los Angeles artist Jason Rhoades. Rhoades’ works used interesting materials including bright neon signs hanging from the ceiling in a seemingly chaotic manner. I saw people from all ages and backgrounds, talking excitedly among themselves or taking photos with the picturesque, Instagram-worthy installations.