Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Aug Recap > What's Fermenting at the Brewery > Lincoln Heights

Gorgeous industrial buildings
On a semi-sweltering August day, de LaBbers met at the massive arts complex known as the Brewery in Lincoln Heights for an in-depth studio tour of some of the artists and architects living and working there.

We started at the office and residence for Carl Smith and Melynda Eccles' architecture firm Telemachus Studio. Carl and Melynda have worked on a number of residential projects in Los Angeles including a number of multi-family residences on the Westside of town. While Carl talked about several of the firms' projects, de LaBbers got a glimpse of how Telemachus has integrated its work and living spaces, using industrial materials and sliding doors to separate the two.
The studio
Also joining us - new roving sandwich truck, Holy Aioli.
Holy Aioli

Once we had our fill of fresh sandwiches and even fresher design, we moved on to the studio of sculptor James Hill. James, a California native, works in metal, steel and bronze and has been commissioned to design public installations by The Western University in Pomona, The Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department and Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, to name a few.

James Hill at his studio

After James' studio, we walked over to Kasey McMahon's newest studio, where she makes her wearable art. Kasey's work explores the intersection of technology and art, and her studio reflects her eclectic interests. As cofounder of the art collective known as Psycho Girlfriend, Kasey repurposes materials to create incredible one-of-a-kind clothes that double as art, while infusing her work with wit. Her fully function birdcage dress comes with this description: "Perfect for casual Fridays at the office. Steer clear of cats, coal mines, ferrets and weasels."
More awesome dresses

Last but definitely not least, we visited the gallery and studio run by jewelry designer Claudia Endler. Claudia's jewelry is clearly influenced by art and architecture, and her handmade pieces are simultaneously timeless and completely contemporary. And the gallery is a Brewery-collaboration, with Telemachus designing the space and the showroom.
Beautiful jewels

Much thanks to all of our hosts at the Brewery and to Holy Aioli for hanging out with us all afternoon!

Check out more photos here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

July Recap > de LaB heads to Richland Farms

On July 31st, de LaB teamed up with the A+D Museum for a very special urban hike to Compton's Richland Farms neighborhood. Over the last year, we had heard that something special was happening in this anything-but-usual neighborhood and we weren't disappointed by what we saw.
More than 60 people ventured out for the tour to catch a rare glimpse of the special neighborhood through the eyes of people who live there.
Our guide Dr. Lloyd Wilkins, who has been dubbed "the village chief" for his efforts to educate the public, and sometimes his fellow residents, about the importance of saving Richland Farms, began the tour with a brief overview about the history of the neighborhood. Dr. Wilkins gave us insights into just some of its economic difficulties, including the fact that Compton is one of the few neighborhoods in Los Angeles where home prices consistently depreciate no matter the state of the economy.
He also alerted us to the City of Compton's strict street parking policies. Although Richland Farms is nowhere near a local retail or business corridor, the city aggressively tickets residents who park in front of their homes without a permit. A move, according to Dr. Wilkins, that symbolizes the City's desire to revoke the neighborhood's unique agricultural status, which grants residents anywhere from a third of an acre to a full acre of property.
When the tour began, Dr. Wilkins proudly led us through the streets to see some of the neighborhood's latest "mansions" and to meet an array of local residents.
Our first stop was a tour through this new home (on the left), where we were ceremoniously joined by a few urban cowboys.
Some of us even hitched a ride!
Next up, we headed to meet Mayisha Akbar, the amazing founder of the Compton Jr. Posse, whose motto is "Keeping Kids on Horses and Off the Streets."
Mayisha left a successful career in real estate to start this program, which now serves a growing number of the neighborhood's kids. Her goal is to empower the kids in the neighborhood to become young leaders as well as outstanding contributors to their community.
Mayisha believes that the skills the kids learn taming and riding horses can apply to every aspect of their life, enforcing important, nonviolent communication skills.
Lucky for us, we were treated to a show by several students, who showed off their beautiful horse riding moves.
We were sad to leave, especially since the Compton Jr. Posse greeted us with refreshments and food and really made us feel like part of the community.
But leave we must, because Richland Farms' infamous cowboys were patiently waiting for us to join them on the next part of our adventure.
As we followed them through the streets, watching their horses gallop and dance along the way, we realized...
...that the whole neighborhood had started to join our tour!
At our next stop, we were treated to the dancing horses of Richland Farms. The horses are trained by Ramon Franco, who has been teaching horses to dance for more than 20 years.
The tradition is not only an important one in Mexico, but it has now become an important part of the neighborhood's culture.
From there, we ventured off to our next stop: one of the resident's backyards. (Which, yes, was a farm!)
These turkeys, cows, and goats live on one of the largest properties in Richland Farms--a full acre of land.
From the street, the house looked like any other on the block. But once we were past the garage, the farm came to life.
And for some of us city dwellers, it was the first time we got to play with farm equipment!
Or marvel over the tools of the trade.
We want to thank Dr. Wilkins, and all of the residents of Richland Farms, who so graciously opened their homes, farms, and businesses to us for a very special behind-the-scenes tour.
For anyone who wants to continue to support Richland Farms, you can learn more about their educational and cultural activities here. For more information about how you can support the Compton Jr. Posse, you can learn more here. We encourage you to lend your support and to spread the word about this incredible community in the heart of LA. [Photos by Melanie McGraw.]

Monday, August 15, 2011

August Recap > Moving Beyond Cars > A+D Museum

Around 150 people walked, biked, bused—and in one case, in-line skated—to see the Rethink LA exhibition at the A+D Museum as part of our Moving Beyond Cars II party (the sequel, since we did this last year as well).

Folks perused the exhibition about LA's future while those who rode had their photo taken by Tommy B in a bike-thru photo booth outside. And bike-friendly New Belgium supplied the beers for those needing a refreshment after their journeys.

As always, we had plenty of ways on-hand for attendees to document their journeys, from emailing photos they had taken in-transit, to a Post-it wall where people could write stories about their travels, to a giant map of LA where anyone could draw their route.

And of course we gave out some prizes! Best Journey Story 2011 went to Ron Milam, who wrote about randomly meeting up with another group of bikers who were also heading to the museum. Best Method of Travel went to Gary Kavanaugh who in-line skated there (and also came in second place taking transit in the famous bike vs. JetBlue Carmageddon race. Plus we named Elizabeth Timme the winner of a project sponsored by GOOD to reimagine a street without cars. We even retroactively gave an award from last year. Ann Kovara had the Best Journey Story from 2010 (taking two buses, the light rail and Angels Flight) and we managed to track her down at this year's event!

The party was covered by the LA Weekly where writer Sophie Duvernoy noted that the event was attended by "not just with hipsters on fixies, but people from all over town interested in urban design (as well as in scoring some complimentary 'I heart Metro' tattoos)." In addition, Frances Anderton passed her microphone to several attendees who told their transit stories on KCRW's DnA: Design and Architecture along with an interview with curator Jonathan Louie.

Thanks to Rethink LA for asking us to be part of such a great event, and to LACBC and their bike valet skills. The show is up through September 4 at the A+D Museum. Check it out!

Top photo by Wild Don Bell, map photo by Jonathan Louie, bottom photo by Tommy B

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August 28 > What's Fermenting at The Brewery? > Lincoln Heights

Sure, you've probably been to the Brewery Artwalk once or twice and roamed the massive complex's artist studios in what was originally the Edison Electric Steam Power Plant turned Pabst Brewery. But how well do you know any of the artists or designers?
(Photo by flickr user j.r.mchale)

Join us on Sunday, August 28th at 1pm for a tour of four diverse studios with the artists living and working in the art colony. We'll start at Carl Smith and Melynda Eccles' architecture firm, Telemachus Studio, for snacks and beverages and to hear about their latest projects. Then we'll head over to jewelry designer Claudia Endler's studio, visit the massive sculptures of artist James Hill, and gawk at the incredible wearable art of multimedia artist Kasey McMahon (one of LA Weekly's Best of LA People).

What: What's Fermenting At the Brewery?
When: Sunday, August 28 
1-3ish pm
Where: The Brewery Arts Complex: Meet at Telemachus Studio
672 South Avenue 21 | Unit 2
Los Angeles CA 90031
Cost: Free

RSVP here via Eventbrite.