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Not So Fast, Food Trucks and Crafts: It's Still Art Walk

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Monday, October 12, 2009, at 03:43PM
Spring Arcade Ed Fuentes

Inside the Spring Arcade Building corridor.

With the art experience dwindling from previous art walks, it was with some curiosity that I set out in October looking for clues as to the direction Downtown Art Walk may be going.

If this is going to be the Food Truck Walk, or the Craft Fair Walk, then the critics are right and Art Walk really is dead.

Thursday, though, an exhibition inside the Spring Arcade Building restored my belief in the event's original intent.

The catering trucks seemed to have tripled from last month. GilVille developer Tom Gilmore (owner of several Gallery Row restaurants) said Thursday that he's resolved to limit their presence. Meanwhile, Downtown Art Walk board member Kim Cooper said that she considered the trucks a feature that adds to the experience.

Then there is publication Citizen LA's craft and art fair, dubbed "Downtown Art Park." And yes, while art is subjective, fewer and fewer booths featured any semblance of it. There were more craft and food booths, and the whole project seemed to be operating as its own island of castaways.

The newly-founded Downtown Los Angeles Galleries Association has an uphill goal if it wants to draw only art buyers. 5th street's Phyllis Stein was the latest to go empty, not even making a planned last appearance before shutting its doors. It plans to return in the Spring.

I was ready to give in and wave the white flag of surrender, but then I came across the works that curator Kelley Francis had brought inside the Spring Arcade Building. The space where tube socks held court during the day had been remade into a home for untitled performance art and projections.

Installations such as that one should be the evolving direction of Downtown Art Walk. The Spring Arcade Building's link between Spring and Broadway adds an intriguing reinterpretation of Downtown's space.

What if Francis oversaw the empty shells that cannot commit to galleries? "That was the plan, and what we began to work on first," says Downtown Art Walk's Richard Schave. "It took some work to secure the [Spring Arcade] walkway."

Using these sort of urban spaces for experimental performance art and installation, whether it be from the outside or local grad art students, holds to the event's original intent of highlighting Downtown through an art experience.

Maybe the solution is not redefining Art Walk, but redefining art.


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