I was asked to write a column this month for my good friends at Core77 and I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to report on the extremely inspiring panel I saw when I was in Madrid about alternative art spaces in LA. Case in point: The above space. That’s Machine Project, a tiny unremarkable storefront about a mile from my house. And yes, it was converted to a forest last year few months. And yes, I attended a pancake breakfast in that forest one hot spring morning. There was a maple syrup tap that came out of one of the trees. They were also playing the most adorable old nature films about baby bears.
It’s places like these that make me lay down and kiss LA’s concrete. Not that you can’t find places like this everywhere, but that in LA it seems like we have so much space for them. Like that Manifest Equality show that I wrote about a month ago. The organizers found something we have far too many of on our streets: Empty box stores. This Big Lots had sat vacant for so long in Hollywood, yet for a few weeks it was energized with the creative energy of hundreds of people (and besides, the fluorescent lighting is effective, if eye-searing, for seeing art).
The creatives I feature in my piece have inspired me to no end, but they’ve also provided true community centers, which, in LA, isn’t the easiest thing to do. These are places where we see our neighbors, meet new friends, get exposed to music, buy art (and mingle with the artists!) and shop for gifts, like at Ooga Booga’s amazing and miniscule space in a Chinatown strip mall. The spaces these creative have occupied are nothing special, but the way they’ve curated the square-footage so specifically for their audiences is something to be admired. Be sure to head over to Core77 and read “Real Estate Bust: How Creatives Are Carving Up L.A.’s Empty Space.” Have a fantastic weekend in a favorite space near you.