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Art Walk Shuts Down?

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, September 24, 2010, at 11:00PM
IMGP2695 Ed Fuentes

Looking down at Art Walk patrons from above POPLOCK gallery in May 2010.

There will be no Downtown Art Walk events for the rest of 2010, at least according to a statement posted on the event's website this afternoon.

Update (Sunday, 2:30pm): The board of the Downtown Art Walk non-profit just issued its first statement on Friday's events. Here it is in full.

September 25th, 2010 (Los Angeles, CA) — The Downtown Art Walk event scheduled for October 14th will proceed as planned. The announcement made to the media on Friday by Jay Lopez, the former director of the event, was made on his own initiative without authorization or support of the Board or any of the other constituents of the endeavor, including the various civic organizations responsible for managing, financing and supporting the event.

Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk greatly apologizes for confusion created by this act. The art walkʼs web site currently shows an erroneous press release that was not issued by the organization or approved by any entity responsible for the event. Mr. Lopez, the eventʼs former director, where he served at the direction of the board, apparently has seized control of the organizationʼs web site, as well as Downtown Los Angeles Art Walkʼs social media accounts. Efforts are being made to rectify this situation.

The organization's board of directors has been considering whether to make changes to the event to address issues of public safety and costs associated with a monthly event that draws 20,000+ visitors each month. The board, gallery owners, Downtown Center and Historic Core business improvement district entities, City of Los Angeles officials, local property and business owners, as well as other constituents and organizations, are currently engaged in discussion of potential changes and improvements, though no resolution has yet been made.

The downtown art walk remains a free, public community event that will take place the second Thursday in October. The Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk and the downtown community look forward the next celebration of art in downtown Los Angeles, set for the 14th of October.

Please email either of the press contacts to arrange interviews.

Note: The first version of the story was published at 2:27pm on Friday, September 24.

That statement by Downtown Art Walk Executive Director Jay Lopez says that the Art Walk will return in 2011 as a quarterly event, taking place during the daytime on the weekend. The short posting blamed the change on costs, saying that "the Downtown Art Walk has grown so large that it has become too costly to manage in its current form."

While the statement leaves little room for questions, many started to swirl after it was posted.

Property owner Tom Gilmore thinks the idea that the Art Walk could even be shut down is preposterous. "Somebody saying that they're going to stop Art Walk is like me saying that I'm going to shut down residential," he said this evening.

"I guarantee Art Walk will happen as usual every second Tuesday," he continued. "I think two weeks from now it's like, 'What? There was something wrong?'"

The board of the non-profit set up to manage the event has not made any statement, but board members have told blogdowntown that the release was not authorized by the group.

"It seems that Jay [Lopez] and Bert [Green] kind of jumped the gun," said board member Wicks Walker. "We hadn't actually resolved on a plan at our last meeting."

"We're trying to find a new plan that will keep the thing going and keep the interest alive and keep all the benefits there, but resurrect the [gallery part of the] art walk," Walker explained. "That part may take a separate form, or take place at a separate moment."

When Lopez posted the statement this afternoon, he took down the rest of the contents of the website. The organization's Facebook and Twitter accounts were used to broadcast the shutdown message.

"That's all intellectual property of the non-profit public benefit corporation," Walker said. "Eventually all the content that was there is going to be back online."

Most hurt by today's sudden announcement are those with events planned for the October Art Walk, said Walker. He hopes people will still come out and support those events despite the confusion. "Any new plan will include a transition, not an announcement that switches things off in a nonchalant way," he said.

For now, though, the statement still being made is Lopez'.

He says that the reborn event will be a positive change.

"It's a gallery event," he told blogdowntown this afternoon. "We're coming back in January. People should be excited."

"It's going to be huge," Lopez said. He said that the upcoming weekend event will stretch over Saturday and Sunday. "We've been discussing doing something like this for six to eight months."

Due to the escalating crowds, continuing the event as-is would likely have led the Police Department requiring full street closures and the associated permit fees.

"This is a completely positive thing," Lopez says. "We're looking at this as a growth."

The event's growth has led to issues and mixed opinions in the community.

"It's become an alcohol event," said Downtown Art Walk founder Bert Green this afternoon.

The resulting trash from an event that attracted up to 15,000 people each month had become a strain on the Historic Downtown Business Improvement District, which is funded by property owners in the neighborhood.

Even with the changes, Green sees the event as a complete success.

When he moved his gallery Downtown in 2004, buyers were shocked that he expected them to go Downtown given its unsavory reputation. "Art Walk changed that perception citywide," he said. "That was fundamentally the stated goal."


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