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Art Weekend L.A. Readies Second Downtown Gallery Event

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Wednesday, January 05, 2011, at 08:08AM
Jay Lopez and Edgar Varela Ed Fuentes

Jay Lopez and Edgar Varela

Just as Art Walk’s original intent was to upgrade the image of Downtown, Art Weekend L.A.’s main goal is to upgrade the image of the quality of art that can be found in selective Downtown galleries, says Edgar Varela, who is heading up the innaugural event with former Art Walk Executive Director Jay Lopez.

“Our handful of galleries can rival Culver City, Venice, and Santa Monica,” he says, adding that while Art Walk brought in the masses for food trucks and pop-up galleries open after 7pm, the reputation, and business, of Downtown’s galleries suffered.

The quarterly weekend event begins January 22 and 23. Varela hopes for 1,200 people to take the tour, and in time to see it grow and take art-goers to the Westside, “or even Boyle Heights.”

The event will feature only invited galleries, who are being asked to “pitch-in” as Art Weekend L.A. approaches its first outing. It opens in a partnership with the Los Angeles Art Show at the Convention Center, which will be an added stop for shuttles transporting artgoers to Bunker Hill, Chinatown, Gallery Row, the Arts District and South Park venues.

“If an invited gallery does not contribute, it doesn’t mean they are taken off the recommended list,” says Varela, while adding that those who don’t fit a certain criteria would be not be added, even if they offer to pay the requested $200 to $300 to help print maps and run a shuttle.

“Anything that brings people to Downtown and to the galleries is something we can all enthusiastically support,” says Clyde Beswick of CB1 Gallery. “While we need sales to survive, I enjoy having all kinds of people in the gallery to see our artists work no matter if they are possible art buyers or not.”

In September, Lopez kicked off the Art Walk uproar by announcing that the event would be reformed into the structure now used by Art Weekend L.A.

Lopez felt he was responding to the concerns of galleries, who had been voicing a lack of support from Art Walk since Bert Green stopped heading the event.

The weekend format and daytime hours were designed to appeal more to the art buyer and bring a different crowd to see what Downtown has to offer.

“There are great galleries that never were seen during Art Walk,” says Varela. “PYO in South Park, ADC in the Arts District. They have great programming.”

Whether Art Weekend L.A. can be the event to bring that exposure is something that will be seen later this month.

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