Welcome To L.A. Arts District: An Insider’s View By The One & Only Anna Broome

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April 1, 2015 · Posted in Commentary 

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Anna Broome Of The Broome Room At L.A. Art Share–With Princess Frank

 

 

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 The Anna Broome Room Tawny Ellis, Marissa Gomez, Terry Ellsworth, George Joquim, Richard McDowell, Jim Marquez, Lee Boek, Colette Von, Anna Broome, Cato Stevens.

 

 

It is 7 AM and the world is dark in the Art District. There is no one awake who may account for the happenings from the night previous. I lived here many moons ago, but still today, everyday is the day before and the night after. The local coffee house is alive with the hereafter represented inside a kind of world no one but the artist may explore: A simple continuing idea abounds from what is the mindset of love and art inside a love and art mind.  I came here for the sake of art and kindness of home but like Dylan said, “A home I had never known.”

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The ties Tatiana Von Der Schulenburg toes on the telephone post symbolizing gentrification

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Bloomfest, an annual cultural festival honoring founder of the Arts District Joel Bloom

 

 

Meet the talent.

 

The morning I moved into the American Hotel was after the death of my boyfriend. I had no where to go. I had been given the cover of Citizen Magazine for a collection of paintings I created on drywall and thus introducing me to the Arts District by way of the art show to follow at The Continental Gallery at Fourth and Main. Long time Arts District member Rick Robinson, who later heads the Art Share board, came to the gallery while I was still working on paintings for my show to open there, Feminine Dissection. He brought me paints and stayed with me as I worked feverishly to finish the work for the show. I can still see him coming into the gallery at midday with a bag full of oil paints and a smile. I didn’t know where this guy came from or who or what sent him, only that he must belong to something wonderful, supportive, where an artists collect extends themselves to other artists, all just trying to survive and get the work done. Through Rick I met many fellow artists and just like I imagined there was a brilliant collective of artists not unsimilar to vampires who formed a kind of coven located in Little Tokyo.

 

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 The American Hotel, L.A.’s Chelsea

I met Yuri Elvin and Jerico Woggon, Lilli Muller immediately who offered me guidance and shelter and a room at the American Hotel as a place of recovery. And so, back to the American. The American exists on the corner of Traction and Hewitt, and still to date houses artists of all kinds: painters, musicians, writers, directors, actors: A coven within a coven. The hotel offered rooms for rent with only shared bathrooms and no kitchen. There were night owls for all kinds of reasons. Often called the Chelsea of Los Angeles, this is part hostile, part hotel: a dwelling for dwellers but none-the-less creators of art. The art in the American never stops. For the first time, though still living hand-to-mouth I was surrounded by like minds on a similar mission.

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Lilly Muller 

 

I remember painting frescos on every of all four walls of every wall in every room where the current resident would allow me in at all hours with my paints offering many available walls as canvass. People were always coming and going and walls being repainted providing the opportunity for me to paint on them again and again. I wasn’t without habits. At the American habit is every artist’s friend: habit as physical mindfulness, habit as emotional support, habit as community without which a void left many unkind and unfriended.

 

I remember meeting Terry Ellsworth, the gentleman’s gentleman, corner wiseman, corner priest and sinner, mentor and mender, art critic, art savant, neighborhood watchman and extender of all goings on. Terry was my neighbor in the American and long time resident since before his heart transplant. Despite the support from others I recently met, it was Terry who pulled me out of a void of darkness and despair to pull together a girl on the verge in the attempt to save her, as often was his calling for having survived Polio, heart disease, heart transplant and many life trivialities found in the lives of men who lived on the edge in an edgy part of town.

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Terry Ellsworth at American Hotel

 

 

Terry isn’t the only warden with a sword and strong heart. Big Al walked the halls of the American Hotel banging on doors to offer food to those who on the other side were up all night creating art or any other kind of all night endeavor. Stevie Casual with a love of his “kittens”, “kittens” of all kinds, all around, as well as, his district he anticipates to always call home.

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Friends, Neighbors and fellow Los Angeles River Artist Business Association Board Members: Chaz Christianson, Jonathan Jerald, Tim Keating, Christopher Fudurich, Beth Topping and Scot Ezzell.

 

 

Every new artist resident of the Arts District needs counsel, direction from the Districts founders who are both participants in community decisions, developments, evolutions as sources of wisdoms and support.  I needed every bit of help. Completely on my own since Jaren’s death or at least feeling so. I searched for smart minds to lead the way perhaps in a parental way as we all sometimes do at times of turmoil. Lilli Muller, a strong German woman who cast body parts as a way of capturing the shell holding the soul, the root of memory, artistry, humanity. Lilli has known many toils and tribulations but more so she has known and continues a disciplined study of triumph and integrity. Perhaps it was through her that I started to question my artistic direction, human being exploration internal and external. She always picked me up as she did for many of the districts talents, talents in who she saw strength and ability, who she saw as coming through to the other side of degradation and strife. Most importantly, she led by example. She walks the walk everyday. She never stays down. A mother of sorts to many, her only child by birth is one of her many children.

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Evening at the Boyd by Suzi Moon

In partnership with Lilli I found solace and tenderness from Suzi Moon, such a brash contrast to Lilli Muller in many ways but similarly a kind Mother of sorts with a loud presence and soft soul. Suzi Moon started painting later in life but was born to it; with an ability to make grotesque the sentimental, pesky cartoonish the precious and hospitality the pesky. From paintings of American landscapes, collectable porcelains, lovers past and present, Suzi Moon makes a new form of painting accessible. Like her, the work can appear brash but contains a fondness and source of comfort whether it confronts or embraces. I remember meeting Suzie for the first time. She wore a black slip of revealing satin and a feather in her hair. As a new arrival to Los Angeles from the conservative South where folks feared California as a haven of devil children I was thrilled to meet the exact representation of that ignorance. I loved her immediately. It is possible to fall in love with a mother figure in sexy satin and it be pure friendship that lasts a lifetime. She is still who I call for the kick in the right direction and she never fails to see me do right, right best for me. This is the Art District collective.

 

I have watched the bankers and doctors, architects and meter readers and no other group has such intense relationships. Maybe it is the risks we take to see, to see the world as it is and extend that knowledge, that vision without rules or constraints that creates the unity.

 

I left the American as most do. It isn’t an insult to those who stay. There has to be a voice from the past there for all the newcomers. As the district changes, changes in the way more for businessmen and hipsters coming and coming, the artists are still coming. That is what keeps the balance. As much as I used to feel disgusted by the incoming commercial brand stores and chain restaurants, that very invasion facilitated in many ways more art, art about the changes in the district which are really worldwide changes. The artist revels in such environments.

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Emmeric Konrad

 

And with that I have met some of the most controversial artists perhaps in the world, right here in such a small and seemingly hidden art neighborhood. I introduce to you, Emmeric Konrad. He stands tall in the community as another source of experience, prolific work and community artist supporter through tellings of life experience and prolific art production. You cant miss him with white hair and broad stride. Stories about him tend to lean on the epic with wives, hard living and still kind heart. No matter my state of mind, he calms me, not just me. Fellow artists hand him their money, works of art and every possible problem. His work is distinct: Psycho-social sexually controversial deceptively romantic works with warrior man children with a star on their crotches, martini in hand disrupting or being disrupted by the prevailing female accompaniment. You see the party, but there is much more than that: the conflict, conflict between beauty and corruption of soul, artist and child witness. It speaks to people the way art should, to a place they can’t recall but want to which they want to return even if trepidatiously.

 

 

Not unlike Emmeric Konrad, Richard Kessler and others are known for the kind of hard living art that stems from hard living.  Meet Richard Ankrom. Google him. He changed interstate signs. Masked porcelain cats and other love lost loveables as collector pieces. Filmed me repelling off the Bonaventure Weston. Then there are his paintings: cement highway landscapes twisting a romantic idea to a decrypted one. And then Jett Jackson who paints more objects in one piece than others in all their paintings over a lifetime with a seemingly whimsical but really acute realism of character and socialized rhetoric so beautiful as to disturb.

 

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David Hollen

Similarly David Hollen sculpts design indicative of the internal geometric force within the mind, world as metaphor construct, “I like to play with the forces hidden in plain sight. I have great interest in structural forces that form the world around us. When I bend and twist my cable structures, I’m using these same geometric principles. When I force a regular tetrahedron of stainless steel cable through a quartet of cubes, the resulting form is an expression of the spherical geometric structure found in the glass skeletons of zooplankton throughout the ocean.” I have sat and watched his meticulous occupation, fastidious design and his artistic beauty form. Every time I am thankful I belong to the Arts District.

 

I mentioned the Anna Broome Room. It can’t be discussed without including information about LARABA and Art Share LA. When you walk into the Arts District, across from the American Hotel, you will find Art Share LA. This is the heart of the Arts District. Not only does Art Share LA house artists in residence from all over the world, it is fully equipped for community art shows, theatre productions, art work rooms. And the artists of the district honor it as a home for their work, as well as a place for the art community to meet, admire each other’s work and discuss projects. Everyone is welcome. A few people make this happen.

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Cheyanne Sauter and John Jason of Art Share LA

Let’s start with Julie Emmel and Cheyanne Sauter. Julie right out of USC comes with a force. She knows how to run a non-profit and with her whole heart, life and love to the art and the artist. As head of Art Share during some of its roughest years of survival, she is changing light bulbs, finding contributors and supporting artists through every process of creation and display of their work. It is during her reign I start a poetry class free to the public for all levels of talent and education funded by LARABA, the LA River Artist and Business Association. If you want to know how the artist finsd a way to pay for paint or gallery expense or rent or food even for the week, it is through boards like LARABA. Jonathan Gerald, Tim Keating who have been on the board since its inception have been the go-to representatives of the board. You can walk right up to either and say, “I have an idea; I need money,” and one or the other will tell you how to apply for funds. I did. I wanted to start a poetry class, and I applied and received money to begin the project. The class was a hit! Local talent came, far away talent came even with a parent or two if underage. I included in the grant application funds for an end-of-class poetry reading highlighting the poetry student’s work. Hence, the Broome Room begins. It has now been running for almost two years without charging anyone or paying the talent. If Julie Emmel was there for the inception of the Broome Room, it was Cheyanne Sauter who kept it running.

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Colette Miller Wings

There are others if I am talking about the Arts District, I must mention. Pioneers who started movements, facilitated funding, raised questions about what an art district should and shouldn’t be. Jim Fittipaldi and Shaun Thyne starting the art movement and facility Bedlam in the 1990’s brought together a collective of all the artists mentioned in this article. By some accounts, the party was on, not any kind of party: this was a party for art Kings and Queens to display art, sell art, throw down, let go and saturate themselves with all things artist. There were times of debauchery, days and nights of debauchery filled with every mind blowing potion and or device and a world surrounded with art and artists. It was a time of all times, and as movements go historically this one too came to an end. The artists of those days are still in the district mostly. Others have scattered. Many are world renowned. Some are developing but in coming to the Arts District one senses them all around with their murals, gallery shows, festivals and in the case of artist Colette Miller, angel wings worldwide extending to populations as diverse as the interpretations of the divine. In terms of local protest, Tatiana Von Der Schulenburg visually confronts the growing gentrification of the Arts District with business ties strapped around telephone posts.

 

There is Joel Bloom who founded the land and designated the area the Arts District. Every year since his passing a tribute festival Bloomfest commemorates his efforts, passions, steadfast authority in all things Art District. Gruff, and hard pressed he was a no nonsense wiseman who gave us all a home, a place to make a home for artists. C’est la vie amor. It is the life, the life source of the Art District.

 

Those who maintain the District like Mark Walsh who right out of art school had the money for a car of a loft. He choose the loft. He wanted to be a part of place that welcomed, sustained, supported artists with an industrial building center. Like the buildings of Bedlam, the industrial area on the skirts of the district house facilities for artists to create. Mark Walsh owns such a place where artists can work large scale and with specialized equipment: no project too big or too small. Or Rick Robinson, sculptor, mentor, Art Share LA President and tour de force resident of the Brewery Art Colony who came in when Art Share LA was on the way down only to rebuild it bringing to life a home, gallery and art resident program for artists all over the world. You can find his sculpture pieces all over the world.

 

Back to the Broome Room. It is hard to run a show. You need talent that shows up, talent that brings their best, promoters, regulators, you need energy you never thought you had, you need to believe in what you are doing. I have the regulars: musicians like Marissa Gomez and the Ghosts of Echo Park who hit that piano bar blues like no vocal or musical talent in town, Princess Frank who hits a 1970’s 20” Rogers bass drum and plays a guitar while he belts notes Robert Plant would resent. Tawny Ellis, a descendant of Degas who sings like Patsy Cline or better while singing Patsy Cline or her own work. Lightning Woodcock and Wolfgang Woodcock. There are the poets,:Richard McDowell, Peter Woods, Lee Boek, who hosts his own show at Art Share LA, Storyphile, and Tiger Moon who rants the concepts of societal dysfunction with A non-intrusive grace, the in-your-face fiction writers: Jim Marquez and  Shana Nys Dambrot. They all show up because the Broome Room had a cause in which they all believe: that this district is their home, and it is a place to recognize and keep thriving though the display of their work.

 

But at the core, you have Cheyanne Sauter and John Jason. Cheyanne comes to the Arts District in the early 90’s and starts gallery row with Kimba Rogers, Nic Cha Kim and Kjell Hagen only to then head Art Share LA at the request of then Art Share LA president Rick Robinson. She succeeded in bridging the gap between artist and art establishment. Sounds easy, right? No. When you are working a non-profit, every cent counts: for Cheyanne everyone shows up to help, all the district residents and talent nearby and far away. The Broome Room was my way of contributing to the Arts District. It was my goal to keep the district thriving during all the changes. The audience being just as important as the talent. There is a need for community support and acknowledgement. At every show artists like sculpture David Hollen and Art Walk Downtown president and resident artist, Qathryn Brehm, gallery resident and art representative Dale Youngman, light artist Andrea Villafañe. The neighborhood always shows. These lovely, on-the-edge beautiful artists.

 

Once a month, every month the Broome Room burns with all the elements of art. You can come see Jason Pippin spray paint and obscure jellyfish, Yuri Elvin paint warrior versus intellectual, Jerico Woggon light up the stage with bright yellow, red, green constructs of light of day and death of night fluorescent stage design, George Joaquim musicians of all kinds rocking hard and poets declaring war on peace and Rick Mendoza who photographs not only the Broome Room but most of the art goings on as Mark Walsh films and live streams.

jerico, yuri, rickRick Mendoza, Yuri Elvin and Jerico Woggon at Art Share LA in front of Rick Mendoza photograph 

It is my goal to extend to you the reader this place and its people. It is easy to answer why: because in this time, these times: the world is burning as it always has been but now with a different kind of fire. It is the artist, who in her or his lifetime, brings to you reason, truth, disturbed beauty, as beauty must always be to be a part of reason, truth, beauty, disturbed beauty, so the information only they, the artists can see, can reach you, disrupt you, bring you cause and a heart willing to influence the cause. Their life hangs on the next painting, poem, piece of music, dance routine; so you better pay attention to what each of these artists mentioned bring to you. Welcome to the Arts District. We will be expecting you.

 

It is 7 PM in the Arts District. Since 7 AM, people have died. People have lived and created art that will always live. Many built this place. Many keep it alive. Many will show up tomorrow to do the same but differently.

 

Peace and love to those who have passed. Big Al, William Mitchell, Stewart Noble. So many more who deserve all you readers to love and appreciate for all its worth, the art, the artist and the Arts District. “All your seasick sailors, they are rowing home,” Bob Dylan.

 

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