In its latest issue, the L.A. Weekly writes about all that’s going on in the Arts District today, including the “In Your Face” exhibit at Angel City Brewery that includes work by “Young Turks” filmmakers Stephen Seemayer and Pamela Wilson.
Reporter Catherine Wagley credits the late Joel Bloom with giving the district its name, but, as anyone who has seen “Young Turks” can tell you, the district was attracting artists and musicians way before even Bloom showed up.
Al’s Bar, on the ground floor of the American Hotel, opened in 1980 as a punk rock haven and pool hall for artists and the truck drivers and others who worked in the industrial buildings in the area. The American Hotel, at the corner of Traction and Hewitt, had been in business since at least the 1920s, but in the ’70s, the proprietors started renting rooms (bathrooms down the hall) to struggling artists as studios and living spaces. (Wilson, then a student at Otis Art Institute, moved into two rooms on the fourth floor in the summer of 1980.)
“Young Turks” was filmed all around downtown L.A. starting in 1977, and when Seemayer’s original rough-cut was shown at the Downtown Drive-In in June 1981, then-Herald Examiner art critic Christopher Knight wrote:
Those who are familiar with the downtown scene know that the Young Turks are a thing of the past, supplanted by the quickly evolving activity of the area. … And the gentrification of the area will only accelerate. “I give it another four or five years,” Seemayer concedes. Like the now-legendary scene that revolved around the Ferus Gallery and Barney’s Beanery in the ’60s, what the film depicts is already gone. The movie is a period piece, with a faintly romantic nostalgia [about it.]
That was 32 years ago. It seems the downtown “arts district,” whether it’s one specific neighborhood or the entire downtown area, has gone — and will continue to go — through cycles of discovery and development.
“In Your Face: How Artists Transformed L.A.’s Urban Landscape” continues through June 9.IN YOUR FACE
April 11-June 9, 2013
Angel City Brewery
216 S. Alameda Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
You can read the full L.A. Weekly article here.