Once a month, the galleries of Downtown Los Angeles stay open late to give you a look at what’s it’s like on the cutting edge of the Art world.
Finally, finally, I went to a Downtown ArtWalk.
Held on the second Thursday of every Month, the Downtown Art Walk is basically a chance to get out and about in the middle of Downtown (that nest of vipers and thieves), and check out an explosion of local Art Galleries, and all hot new, young Artists they’re representing.
It’s also a chance to wander into some local eateries and bars, and get yourself some grub or have a drink.
I actually attended an event with one of the heads of the Downtown Art Walk, who gave us the lay of the land and a bit of the thinking behind the Walk. It’s, in a way a perfect storm of forces. Artists who want to be seen, Galleries who want to sell their stuff, People who want to see (and occasionally buy) this art, and a bunch of local businesses (Shops, Bars, Restaurants) all too happy to go along for the ride.
Being that this was my first trip to the ArtWalk, I chose to park in more familiar climes. I parked at the lot I always relied on across from Woodspoon, and near Umamicatessen. It was close to the Blackstone Gallery, which one of the Galleries the head of the ArtWalk introduced us too. Parking was six bucks, and I thought I was getting off light. (You’ll see why I was wrong in a minute),
After availing myself of another wonderful Truffle Burger at Umamicatessen, I decided to burn it off by looking at some art. Well, it was a loooong walk up Main Street, thinking I’d find the Art Walk Lounge in short order.
It took about a block or two before I felt the Police presence, and the other edge of the Art Walks’…well, “bubble” for lack of better word. After some shoe leather, I finally found the crowd. Things are a mite bit scattered, which is find. But I wish more of the Downtown Art Walk Maps were available in all the Galleries. That would’ve helped. I finally got ahold of one in the Art Mart.
Once I was able to get into the thick of things, I had a pretty good time. You feel safe with all the Police Presence, and there is actually some good stuff to be seen. Don’t get me wrong. Some of it is crap, but that’s the risk with new up and comers. Not everything’s a gem, but I guarantee you’ll see stuff you haven’t seen before.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Many. First thing’s first. Remember, you are Downtown. You are in the middle of a den of Vipers and Thieves. I say that jokingly because there are Vipers and Thieves who will charge you more for everything, for Parking, for ATM Fees, what have you. But bear in mind that there are also Vipers and Thieves who will cut you. It is the big part of the big city, after all.
That being said, there is a robust Police presence at the Art WAlk. Once you get into the thick of it, you will see Cops…literally…on every corner. This is a good thing. Because once I was safely within in the bubble of the Art Walk, I felt 100% safe.
But that’s the problem…there’s a dang bubble in the first place.
There’s only so much ground you can expect the local Police to cover. So, in a way, there has to be a bubble. Just know going there’s a bubble…alls I’m saying. Basically, when you’re coming for the Art Walk, and see $10 parking…and suddenly the next place has dropped to $7 or $5…you just left the bubble. And it’s going to lead to one of the strangest Parking recommendations I’ve ever made on this site. (See below)
Also, I’d recommend going with someone. It’s not a 100% guarantee of safety, but it’ll also improve your odds should something unfortunate happen. You can go alone. You will be okay, but it wouldn’t hurt to keep your head on a swivel.
Remember, this is not LACMA. Each of these Galleries is basically, a room or two, tops. Don’t be surprised if a Visit is taking you ten minutes or so. That’s it.
Because, I know I’ll get asked this…finding Public Bathrooms is a bit of a pain. The Art Mart has one (see below). Your best bet is to conduct your business in whatever Bar or Restaurant you go to. (I myself, hit Umanicatessen for my dining needs that night.) What you should in transit, while Gallery hopping? I don’t know. I depends on the Gallery, but some of them won’t have Public Bathrooms.
Also bear in mind while a few of the Galleries are clumped in together, others are scattered all over creation. Sometimes it was hard to hell what was a Gallery, and what was just a bunch of people doing stuff. I had to see stuff on the walls to be sure I was able to go in and look at something.
Finally, be prepared to deal with a massive amount of Hipster. Seriously, Artwalk is like a Hipster magnet. Every tattoo wearing, pierced something having, under 30 something trend follower is going to be here. If Hipster is something that annoys you to a high degree. Seek Art elsewhere.
No, they’re not bad, just…annoying, and more than a little self absorbed. Would it kill some of you to hold open doors for people?
PARKING: There are plenty of parkings all throughout the Downtown Area, consult the Downtown Parking Map for more information. The closer you are to the “heart” of the action, the more expensive the parking will be. So…and I cannot believe I am saying this…but go with the most expensive parking. It’ll save you some shoe leather, and keep you closer to the where all the people (and Police) are, making your stay just a bit safer.
In case you’re wondering, these more expensive Parking Spots will be the harder to get. Plan accordingly. I guarantee you will find a space to park, but you might find yourself (like I did), a block or two outside the bubble.
Bear in mind, we’re giving you directions to the epicenter of the ArtWalk. Once you get there, you’ll have to look for available parking (see note above):
Downtown Art Walk
411 South Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013