Put horror king Clive Barker in a room with some naked people and some body paint, and you've got an enraptured crowd of “art lovers” in your gallery. That was the offering at Bert Green Fine Art Thursday night when I finally checked out the Downtown Art Walk, a monthly happening on the misleadingly (or perhaps hopefully?) named Gallery Row. I don't care for Barker's garish grotesqueries but the scene was lively. As one woman put it, “at least these boys are packing!”    There was also a neon sign in the window that read “shelovesmenot” or “helovesmen” depending on what was lit up. At Pharmaka across the street, the exhibition was about the process of making art, and what that meant to the various members of this non-profit painter's collective.    

    To one artist it meant creating an altar of talismanic objects.         To another it meant bringing his entire studio into the gallery space.

    Other galleries showed everything from macabre, technically astonishing digitally manipulated photographs to butt-ugly pottery figurines that *might* make it into the Adult Ed art show. The 626 Gallery had a chocolate fountain and all sorts of dippables, but no snails, unfortunately.     The Hive Gallery and Studios not only sells art that is interesting and seriously affordable (I may go back for a fun little painting priced at $100), they also offer free yoga four days a week.

    I wish I could say I have high hopes for the downtown art scene, but it's still pretty rough around the edges. There is a ton of potential and a few pockets of genuine inspiration, but with most of the fresh new talent setting their sights on Culver City, it's hard to believe that patrons are going to keep choosing to roam these dim streets where there are almost more SROs than galleries.    

I think I speak for my companions (here at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art) when I say that the best show of artistry we saw all night was on our dinner table at R23, a hidden away sushi restaurant that has been a Los Angeles favorite for a decade.

    There we sat on architectural cardboard chairs by Phillippe Starck, drank sake poured from a blown glass vessel, devoured a table-wide platter of insanely fresh fish, and discussed lofty matters like Lindsay Lohan's career. “Have you seen Freaky Friday?!” asked Ivy (in the white shirt) by way of defending her (granted, he'd enjoyed a good amount of fine sake). Apparently Lindsay was seen in New York City with a not-so-rehabbed Kate Moss, where the two (what else?) made out on the bar of some strip club.     Actually, I think Clive Barker and downtown L.A. win this round.

LA Weekly