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'A' is for Arts District: Hand-designed signs installed to identify DTLA neighborhood

By Hayley Fox
Published: Thursday, February 23, 2012, at 10:00AM
Scott Ezzell

The new Arts District hand-crafted signs will be unveiled officially this Saturday.

The Arts District is taking it to the streets with a new public arts endeavor that will clearly mark where this burgeoning neighborhood starts, and ends.

"When you mention the arts district now you get reactions like, 'where is that?' and 'I think I've been there' and 'that's where art walk is,'" said Estela Lopez, executive director of the Central City East Association.

She said this project attempts to give the district a visual identity -- and who better to do that than a local artist.

Downtown resident, sculptor and art jeweler Valerie Mitchell was chosen to design these crafted markers that will be attached to light posts throughout the district. There will be 40 of these "medallions" made of powder-dusted aluminum and designed with two different images.

Mitchell's lived in the area and had a studio there for more than 25 years. She created the images for the tri-dimensional works of outdoor art and pays homage to the history of Downtown.

One design is of the Wolfskill Ranch, a citrus grove that bordered the Arts District in the 1800s. The other includes a large letter "A" - referencing the signage that was initially used in the area to mark the buildings that had artists in them (and inform the fire department of what types of flammable materials may be inside.)

The project was created by the Arts District Business Improvement District and the L.A. Community Redevelopment Agency, and has taken about a year to complete.

Organizers said that the Arts District deserves attention and distinction, and branding the neighborhood comes after years of working first to make it safe and clean.

This Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the corner of 5th and Hewitt, councilman José Huizar will join others involved in the project to officially unveil the new outdoor art. Organizers said it will also be a celebration of the Arts neighborhood and encourage all local residents to participate.

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