“Where’s the wine and cheese?”
“I’m sure they don’t have it.”
With this overheard conversation snippet, cue your introduction to Downtown Art Park at The Medallion, a new residential complex in the Historic Core that is adjacent to both Pete’s Cafe and Skid Row. Once a month for Art Walk its grounds and as-yet unleased retail spaces morph into pop up art galleries and vendors.
The ground-level retail space is not only un-leased, but also un-finished. (Purposely?) Above your head ceiling wires and pipes hang exposed, and below, your feet tread over a rough concrete floor. There are no interior walls and no sources of light. Instead, artists have propped on the floor lights ranging from lamps to cliegs. Their wires snake around the venue, just daring a boozy visitor to trip. Much of the art is painting, which, to my untrained eyes, reminds me of the street art I recently viewed in Crewest. I also spot jewelry, craft and pottery vendors. As in Crewest, the place is packed and a DJ blasts up the volume.I creep around the venue trying to avoid lamp-wires and peer through semi-darkness. The art works that finally makes me pause are a series of small, understated, almost colorless, collages by Patrick Haemmerlein.
Each collage focuses on a single black-and-white photographic image of a building, for example, of L.A.’s City Hall. But then there are also images of trees and bushes displayed over that. Text from books and newspapers form a final layer. Somehow, they seem more insightful and creative than the bright, brash paintings I saw on the way in. Haemmerlein’s artist statement – about the simultaneous coexistence and clash between nature and industry – makes me respect them even more.
As I head toward another area of the sprawling Medallion campus, I spot arworks next to…mailboxes. It’s a reminder that people actually live here, making me contemplate this strange juxtaposition of public and private space. (Not to mention the huge headahce that Art Park must be for residents of The Medallion.) Outside, more vendors snake around the grounds, and the adjacent parking lot is crammed with food trucks. I guess all that art and all those people would make a person hungry. Any wine or cheese?