Awesome Afternoon Artwork – Downtown Los Angeles

Genie Davis February 25, 2014 No Comments

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In an industrial corner of Los Angeles, north east of downtown’s glossy towers, and just across the LA River, you’ll find an awesome art complex housed in what was once a Pabst Blue Ribbon Brewery. Today it’s a collection of artist’s lofts, open twice yearly for a fabulous afternoon art walk. Is it for kids? Absolutely yes.

When we were there this year, an entire warehouse area contained a steampunk paradise that had kids clambering to pedal bicycle powered tables on wheels, with an arc of a chandelier overhead, and a fake dinner setting. More kids ran through glow-in-the-dark interior rooms. And others marveled at the ability to cast shadow puppets into temporary murals thanks to the power of light impressions.

Steam punk art for the kids to enjoy

Then there’s the art itself, and the wonderful ability to interact with actual artists in their own studios. Let’s not forget the outdoor cafes and food trucks, the comfortable benches for just hanging out int he courtyards.

From vibrantly painted crash-test-dummies to gorgeous, hyper realistic paintings of kids in Haiti by skilled artist/resident Robert Sherman Wilson, there was something for everyone to see, and for all ages to admire.

Parents be warned, there’s cool stuff to buy too, like small plastic purses infused with strips of neon that are battery operated so you can turn them off and on at the flick of a switch. And one further happy caveat – a lot of these friendly artists enjoy offering candy to kids!

GALLERY SCHEDULE

Check the gallery schedule – the artwalk afternoons are usually on a Saturday and Sunday in the fall and again in the spring. The old industrial area housing the PBR Brewery artists lofts is a really fascinating area in and of itself. The art aside, just wandering through the still “metamorphing” buildings is great fun for kids and adults. See the old brewery furnace, still in the process of being repurposed into kilns and crafts space.   Check out the huge smoke stack still labeled “Brewery” that stands tall over tiny garden plots hung with windchimes and cowbells.

Look at the permanent interactive whizz bang  gizmos such as enormous bicycles and mini-Ferris wheels hung with buckets.

My kids loved being able to see where artists actually worked – easels, drafting tables and the like. They also enjoyed being able to check out the living quarters of the artists, their pet cats and dogs and in one case an inguana. How can you miss with this event? And did I mention that it’s free, including parking?

ART WALK

This is THE art walk that gives you a glimpse into an actual artist’s life. My kids had certain favorites of the exhibitors of course. Looking at gorgeous photo murals of the LA region, sea, desert, mountains; exploring a studio where a picnic for a giant was created out of giant paper mache drumsticks; enjoying Day of the Dead figures decorating a huge dining room table which also offered up homemade tortillas and salsa to viewers.

It’s really like a great and funky art party as much as a display of art itself. The artists range from those whose work you may have seen in museums and major galleries to those just starting out. The kids were fascinated to watch one artist create thin wire sculptures while we watched.  We went in the fall, and there were some artists creating custom-cool Halloween pumpkins, too.

There were splashy modern pieces and small, perfectly detailed ceramics, hilarious stuffed figures and bizarre dolls.  If you live in LA or are in the city more than once a year, check out the sheer variety of studios. There’s always something new to consider buying, or let the kids explore. In a jewelry artists’ loft, the kids were invited to touch pieces in various stages of creation. In one garden, an elderly artist carefully set out little mobiles that looked like birds in flight when the wind caught them.

A lizard art piece from the Brewery art walk

And show your kids just how important art is by supporting some of these generous artists. You don’t have to drop thousands on beautiful large canvases – although you could. There were those clear plastic purses holding winking neon for only $25, paper cut outs that were clever and cool for $10, small squares of  bright flower filled canvases for $40, sketches and lithographs  created right as you watched for less than $30. It’s a great lesson for kids to learn – that art is fun, cool, and matters – and that mom and dad believe in this rampant creativity enough to buy something neat for the kids walls or to hang over the dining room table.

We think the best thing about this kind of local, inspiring, innovative art is letting the kids talk tot he artists about what inspired them, or what a painting – perhaps a whimsical house on stilts, or a winged fairy – means to them. It’s a fascinating way to explore this vast art colony, the fascinatingly weird old factory itself, and to let your kids know that eclectic and witty works aren’t just created by Disney.

Take your kids to art outside the box – but in the factory when October or April rolls around. Every little finger painter will be glad you did.

 

 

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

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