Art, Drinks and Food Trucks: A Match Made in Heaven or a Recipe for Disaster?

The only thing hotter than the 113° degree heat wave in Downtown L.A. was the firestorm created Friday by one little press release.

DTLA’s famed Art Walk, a monthly event where visitors eat, drink and participate in self guided gallery tours was reportedly at risk when the Art Walk’s Director unceremoniously issued a press release stating that the event was no longer going to be held.

The DTLA Art Walk started out organically in 2004 when gallery owners and property managers sought to bring visitors downtown and make their galleries more accessible.  It quickly gained in popularity and was hailed a success.  As the event grew, bars opened and the food trucks followed.  Now the event reportedly attracts 20,000 art patrons.

Art patrons?  Maybe not.  As bar hopping became the primary draw, the event turned into a drunken pub crawl, leaving a wave of trash and unmanageable costs in its wake.  While I don’t think the Food Trucks or the bars are to blame, it appears as though the group behind the Art Walk struggled to manage its success. This prompted Friday’s Press Release stating that there will be no more events for the remainder of the year, and the Art Walk will become a quarterly weekend festival vs a monthly weeknight affair.  In a strange twist of events, by Sunday, the Board of Directors of the Art Walk reportedly released an announcement saying the Press Release was issued in error, the Art Walk will indeed continue as originally scheduled,  and the Director was summarily dismissed.  For more on the board’s retraction, check out LA Weekly’s update.  The plot thickens.

It’s a shame that an organization’s dysfunction is so public, and I am amazed that the disconnect between the board and the organization’s leadership has deteriorated in this way.  I hope that the visibility this embarrassing chain of events has received will lead to more community involvement to determine the fate of the DTLA Art Walk.

Eli Broad Picks Museum Site for Collection

Eli and Edythe Broad-Photo Credit:
©The Broad Art Foundation

After months of speculation and anxious anticipation by Contemporary Art patrons, Eli and Edythe Broad have chosen Downtown L.A.’s Grand Avenue as the location for “the Broad Collection”, the permanent home of their aquisitions representing over 50 years of Contemporary Art.

L.A. Times Article Regarding Museum Site

The new location affirms Broad’s vision for creating a thriving cultural center in Downtown Los Angeles. The site will be flanked by the Disney Concert Hall and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).

How will the addition of another Contemporary Art museum be received by Angelenos? I think the timing is brilliant. While the current economy has struck a significant blow to philanthropic institutional giving, the new museum’s opening will likely coincide with economic recovery over time. Until then there is a ready made population that will benefit from the museum’s new locale. Given the popularity of the monthly Downtown Art Walk, the area cultivated a thriving gallery community over the last 6 years. The Art Walk’s success has fueled an eager audience of art patrons sponsoring the next generation of contemporary art luminaries. I think the synergies between the institutional movement and the gallery community will continue to develop the cultural vitality of the area.

For more thoughts on the Broad Collection, please see my previous post on the topic.