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Faces of Downtown - MATTEO

By Jeannine Denholm
Published: Thursday, June 11, 2009, at 09:43AM
MATTEO Ed Fuentes

This installment of Faces of Downtown pulls back the curtain on MATTEO, one of Downtown's most innovative resident artists. His Video Sculptures, as they are called, are truly an unique experience and have been featured in the LA Times, New York Times and on the Discovery Channel. If you haven't seen his work yet it is a "must see" at the June Downtown Art Walk.

Why do you live Downtown?

A chance to see the wild wild “east” of LA birth cultural credibility as opposed to the media machine so many perceive all of LA to be. There truly is a sense that anything can be done here and more importantly, that there is a community in place willing and excited to make this happen. Artists, city officials, gallery owners, loft dwellers and developers…people have your back down here and are committed to making downtown a very special place.

Also, every day I experience something different and unexpected. Like taking a bite out of a David Lynch sandwich. Just when you think it can’t get more interesting, odd and bizarre (in a good way) it does. I mean, have you been to Clifton’s Cafeteria lately?

What’s your favorite restaurant?

Royal Clayton never disappoints. The burritos at los tacos 9th and bway. So many others popping up I have to get to. Isn’t that great!?

What’s your favorite late night hangout?

My loft. Lot’s of fun parties happen here. But if I wasn’t here it would be Hanks at the Stillwell Hotel.

What does Downtown still need?

Trader Joes. More grass for my dog, markets that sell booze, a news stand that has everything, neighbors that understand that noise is part of the downtown experience. If you want peace and quiet, there’s a million other places to live in LA. This is the city not the burbs.

What's the biggest misconception about Downtown?

That it’s 1) Dangerous and 2) FAR away.

Practically every major freeway runs through downtown. I find it takes half the time to get to Venice than it did when I lived in Hollywood. Downtown is very close to all.

There are more police than you can shake a stick at (he he) and if they’re not around we have the purple people (district safety) on bikes cruising the streets 24-7. This the safest place I’ve lived in LA in the last 15 years.

How do you feel about the Downtown Art Scene?

To some extent I feel there has been a global drought on creativity in fashion, music and art for the last decade maybe longer. I’d like to see more risk taking. This is just the right place for it AND the right time. Artists need to remind themselves, There are no rules and “only slow minds play it safe”.

Do you go to Art Walk?

If I’m not showing and working the event, I do get out there. What a blast it is to feel the energy on the streets. My hats off to all those who make it such an amazing experience.

You call your art Video Sculptures, what are they?

I’m not aware of anyone doing quite what I do so describing them has been difficult but in a nut shell: My Sculptures and installations are embedded with plasma screens, or projection based displays, presenting inspired and moving video art films. Each innovative piece is visually and conceptually striking as sound and image charge them with dynamic potency. The next best thing to seeing them in person is to check out the videos and pictures on my site:

How does Downtown influence your art?

The historic architecture, passionate and accessible community members and hidden diversity have certainly grounded and inspired me. You tend to become myopic when you live in Hollywood too long. I intend to realize new work that has a potent intention reflecting all of this. This to be presented at an exhibition later this summer.

What are some of your favorite galleries Downtown?

LADC, Edgar Varela Fine Art, Bert Green, The Hive, Pharmaka… There are so many others I haven’t had the time to check out, but these deliver consistently.

Where do you see Downtown 10 years from now?

Hopefully from a penthouse ;) I’m hoping it’s not just going to be a place for emerging talent but also one that becomes an important international destination to purchase fine artwork and see creativity at it’s best in all mediums. I am seeing evidence of a return to boutique fashion retailers, restaurants, night spots and other entrepreneurial establishments. This is a great, GREAT thing and I hope it is supported. “Death to Generica!!!!!”

To see some of MATTEO's work during the June artwalk, check out his studio at 800 S. Spring from 6 - 10pm. After Art Walk his collection can be viewed by appointment by calling 213-909-7046.

Update (12:40pm): Note the location change above. The first version of this story had said that MATTEO's Art Walk exhibition was at Phyllis Stein Art.


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