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Downtowners have mixed feelings about Art Walk which returns tomorrow

By Emily Chu
Published: Wednesday, August 08, 2012, at 04:02PM
Courtesy of Art Walk

Art Walk has grown over the years due to corporate sponsorship and the revitalization of Downtown.

Tomorrow night marks the first Art Walk since last month's Chalk Walk, where Occupy LA staged a demonstration that ended with LAPD arresting 17 protestors. Downtown residents have mixed opinions about Art Walk, but some say this ambivalence has more to do with the culture and environment of the event than concern about Occupy LA's potential presence.

Downtown Art Walk takes place on the second Thursday of every month, and the event draws crowds of over 6,000 people — both local and not — to the area.

These crowds are part of the reason why Cristina Fuentes, the manager at Pet Project on Spring, dislikes Art Walk. She said she closes the shop right at 6 o'clock on the dot on Art Walk day, just in case she starts running into the crowd.

"It's a giant excuse for people to get drunk and look at mostly bad art," she said.

Fuentes lived Downtown for four years before moving to Koreatown, and she is as critical of the art as she is of the environment it creates. Still, she is sympathetic to the appeal of the event from a social standpoint.

"There's nothing wrong with partying, it's just hard to walk through as a local," she said.

Joe Moller, the executive director of Art Walk, also lives Downtown. He says he approaches Art Walk from three distinct perspectives: that of the executive director, the small business owner and the resident.

"As a resident, Art Walk can be challenging for those people who live in the densest part," he said, "I hear people yelling and screaming, and when you have to wake up to go to work on Friday morning, it's hard."

Still, there are residents who enjoy Art Walk, despite the crowding and noise issues that Moller observes. Marcus Donald, a 28-year-old student, lives in an apartment Downtown with his puppy.

"I'm not at that age where I have kids, so I enjoy it. I don't care if [the crowds] are loud at 2:00, 3:00 in the morning," he said.

Donald attends Art Walk and said he enjoys mingling with new people and local artists.

"It's loud everywhere in the city," he said, shrugging.

Whether or not Occupy LA intends to make an appearance at this week's Art Walk, Fuentes said her critiques of the event have little to do with Chalk Walk.

"[Art Walk] has never been too violent or political at all," Fuentes said, "I think [Chalk Walk] was a really isolated event."

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