Jun 21, 2012
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Art Exploration in Greater Los Angeles County: Where to Go?

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Art exploration is part of the greater Los Angeles cultural experience. From March to June of 2012, the Surviving L.A. on a Budget team and myself took to the streets on three different art explorations: the Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk, which has been held the second Thursday of every month since year 2004; the Art Night Pasadena event, which is usually part of a bigger Pasadena Art Weekend; and the Venice Art Crawl, which has been held every third Thursday of the month since 2010. All art explorations are distinct and worthwhile in their own right. I offer a comparison of the overall experience of the three, to include food choice, art piece evaluation, and after-hours entertainment.

Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk

Thursday, March 8, was my second time going to the Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk. The last time I went was sometime in November of 2011. As always, my first stop was at the food truck destination spot near 3rd and Spring Street. Two of my favorite food truck options are ZZ Truck’s sliders for dinner and Coolhaus, the ice cream cookie food truck noted in UrbanDaddy recommendations, for dessert. 
QUESTION FOR READERS: Which food truck is your favorite to hit up and why?
What I noticed about the Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk, is that there is a lot of variety within the art that is displayed. There was a section of Downtown Los Angeles that had art pieces that reminded me of the Mexican “Day of the Dead”. I also remember a crowded room, filled with mixed media art that made you feel you were stepping into a time machine and traveling back generations.
As we wandered and looked at prices of the art work, a debate started regarding what could be considered art. One of the main questions that arose was if one took a picture of graffiti, should that photographer’s picture be considered art or is the true art the actual graffiti. I would love to hear some of our readers’ opinions on this. 

To see more art from the Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk, you can visit the L.A. on a Budget’sofficial site.
Looking for a place to eat while you’re in Downtown Los Angeles? You can always go to Garage Pizza off of West 7th Street. The pizza is somewhat average in taste, but you get a pretty decent size for the price and they are pretty creative with the names of their pizzas (e.g., Inferno, White Boy, Tree Hugger, to name a few). The atmosphere is really kickback and the service is awesome. If you go, please tell Holly I sent you over.
One of the many pros to attending the Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk, over another art exploration option, is there are many convenient bars and lounges to choose from after you are done scoping out the art. Steven and I recently attended a Shakedown music event at Exchange L.A. The drinks were a little pricey and you have to go early for the events if you don’t want to pay the cover charge. 

Pasadena Art Night


Friday, March 9, I went for my first time to the Art Night Pasadena event. We started out our night at the Civic Center off of Holly Street and North Garfield Avenue, where musicians were setting up. Although the museums limited our photography, some of what we saw at a local gallery included an oil painting of Chateau de Fenelon en Dordogneand one of Catalina Island. I included some other photos, that were taken throughout the evening, below. 

QUESTION FOR READERS: Which artist or art pieces were your favorites?
Some of the food trucks present at the event were No Tomatoes, Komodo, Paradise Cookies, and Clean Street Food.
I hit up the Border Grill food truck. As each person in line went up to order their food, a trend started of giving out funny names, rather than our given names, for when our orders were called. My name for that evening was “Sassy Chiquita”. I felt it took awhile to get my food and I really should have ordered more than one taco, since they were so small. However, I did enjoy the churro tots.
Steven Wong decided to go to the Nom Nom truck, but his evaluation was that the Vietnamese sandwiches were not worth the price for what you got. We also found that there weren’t as many food trucks in any one location so the lines were quite long.
If you are still looking for something to do after Art Night, a new activity recruit for the evening, Julie Ma, recommends IX TAPA Cantina and Lounge off of East Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena. The atmosphere of IX TAPA is pretty chic and hip with black lights and plasma TVs. There was also no cover charge when we went. On the downside, it was a little small and crowded, for my taste. Steven and myself ordered their signature IX Tapa alcoholic beverage, which is the IX Tapa’s version of a pina colada. The coconut chunks in it added to the texture and really good flavoring of the drink.
QUESTION FOR READERS: Where do you go when 10:00 p.m. comes around and the main art exploration events end?

Venice Art Crawl


June 21st was my second time at Venice Art Crawl. I went this last time to support L.A. on a Budget team member, Olga, as her art was being displayed in Suite 402 of the Venice Breeze Suites. The gas station used to be one of the prime locations to get your art displayed but, lately, that section hasn’t had as much to look at. Venice has its own culture and, therefore, the art pieces are different from those you might see in the Downtown L.A. Art Walk or in Pasadena. Venice has permanent artwork that you can see even when the Art Crawl isn’t going on. Some examples of this include skate park graffiti and the image below.

Out of the many artists’ work we saw throughout the evening, there are four I would like to shine some light on:
The first is Theresa Holliday, who actually grew up in Venice Beach. Her work seemed inspired by nature and the surrounding beach. Below, are some of her art pieces that Steven and I saw. I especially like the one with the eye, as that is a motif image I currently like to use in my own artwork. Her art seems to have a simplicity and childlike aspect to it that I think was unique in comparison with a lot of the other artwork we saw that night.  


The second artist I would like to mention is Paul (last name to remain anonymous). What is fascinating about his artwork is how he plays with angles. There are two completely different images in each art piece. If you stand in the middle of some of the pieces, you see where he transitions from one image to the next. Also, his choice of images seems thought out; having particular images transition into each other, to convey a particular point or idea.

The third featured artist of the night is Leila Levi, who runs the Alkaline Water Gallery. Seeming inspired by the human form and movement, she has a varied portfolio including computer graphics art and smoke drawings.  

The final artist I would like to draw attention to is Michael J. Jacyna (Please note: link may not work if site is under construction). Interestingly enough, all his mixed-media on canvas art pieces are “Untitled”, except for the one I took a specific interest in. I told him it reminded me of Venice. He said it actually was his interpretation of Prague. One of his images looked like two people having a mysterious interaction. Another passerby felt that it looked like two people dancing. I initially felt it looked like a struggle or battle between two people. What is great about Michael’s work is that it is all left up to interpretation of the viewer. 

Below, you will find a collage of some of my other favorite art pieces I saw throughout the Venice Art Crawls.

If you are looking for a place to dine during Art Crawl, I have two recommendations: 
The first recommendation is Cairo Cowboy, which is a Mediterranean restaurant. Although I am not big on Mediterranean food myself, I still thought it was a very convenient spot to stop as it is right along one of the major paths one would take during the Art Crawl. The price was also pretty good for what you got and the service was excellent. Cairo Cowboy was the place Steven and I stopped to eat at my first time attending the Art Crawl.
Not too far off, is a pretty chill restaurant and bar known as Danny’s, where bands can be found playing frequently. Steven and I stopped in, after a bite to eat, to listen to Fly N Lion playing covers of some popular rock songs. There is nothing like supporting art and music at the same time. 
My second recommendation and personal favorite is the Sidewalk Cafe. It is right across from the beach and you can be entertained by the many performers, such as a man doing bicycle tricks or a musician playing guitar. I got the chicken alfredo pasta at the cafe. It was very tasty and filling. There was a lot on the menu to choose from, so it seems like a good place to go any time of the day. 
If you want further information on good places to eat in Venice, you can always contact Steven on the official L.A. on a Budget website, since Venice is his turf. 

Final Thoughts

Here are some key differences I noticed between Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk, Pasadena’s Art Night, and the Venice Art Crawl. 
The first thing I noticed was there were a lot more museums showcasing art at the Art Night in Pasadena, whereas the Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk was more boutique/gallery oriented.The Venice Art Crawl had art displayed in the back of shops and restaurants, so it benefits those hopeful business owners who think you might also buy something on your way to the art display section. 
One downside to a museum art exploration is that you are often limited on documenting via photography. Also, in regards to the spacing out of the different art sections, it was very hard to scope out all that Pasadena had to offer that night because each destination on the map was some distance apart. Although, there were free shuttle rides offered to each art “hot spot”, we still had to prioritize what we wanted to see.
You definitely have to come early if you want to take advantage of the Pasadena Art Night event, but an upside to going for the Art Night is that you save quite a bit in that you don’t have to pay admission costs at all the museums. The Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk is a little bigger than the Venice Art Crawl, but smaller in distance you would have to travel in comparison with the Pasadena Art Night. 
Due to the fact the Art Walk has been around for some time, you often get a good amount of people attending. It really depends on your preference, if that is a good thing or a bad thing. If you don’t like crowds, you may try the Venice Art Crawl instead. 
QUESTION FOR READERS: Which art exploration event do you prefer and why? You decide, where should our next art exploration take us?

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