Attempting to bolster attendance, Los Angeles' downtown Art Walk has relaunched its monthly event, paring it down to nothing but food trucks.
"Art is defined by its audience," explained Edmund Vale, assistant cultural director of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, between bites of a Chinook burger from the Lobos Truck on a recent Thursday evening. "We noticed that attendance was waning, so we decided to give the art lovers of Los Angeles what they appreciate most: American-fusion comfort food served out the side window of a parked vehicle."
Presented every second Thursday of the month, Art Walk exemplifies the neighborhood's current period of cultural renaissance. Vale hopes the newest incarnation of Art Walk will bring in not only larger number of spectators but also undiscovered L.A. talent.
"Art Walk prides itself on excavating those diamonds in the rough," said Vale, wiping a splotch of garlic aioli from from his handlebar moustache. "Obviously, we continue to incorporate the established, venerable institutions, like Kogi BBQ, Cousins Maine Lobster and the Grilled Cheese Truck. But it's crucial that we provide a mouthpiece for our city's fresher voices, such as Heirloom L.A. or Poke2Go. Either of these up-and-comers could be the next India Jones Chow Truck."
Public reaction to the reformatted Art Walk has been generally positive. Attendance has skyrocketed, attracting not only Southern California's artistic vanguard but also everyday citizens curious about the downtown art scene.
"Honestly, I don't know much about art, but I gotta say, I am liking this Art Walk," said Jim Geist, a building manager from Van Nuys, who juggled a plate of Jogasaki's spicy tuna nachos in one hand and a Mandoline Grill báhn mì sandwich in the other. "I can't say I completely understand everything I'm seeing, but I guess that's part of the fun."
This sentiment is echoed by patrons with more discerning aesthetic tastes.
"I was an art history minor in college, and I actually studied in Paris for a summer," said Zara Hidalgo, a Los Feliz T-shirt silk screener and organic mustard artisan, who casually munched on a ratatouille and cheese crepe from La Frite Express. "I can attest that what I've experienced this evening is on par with that of the Musee d'Orsay's" — she paused to swallow a bite — "Cafe Campana."
Although many enjoy the new incarnation of Art Walk, there are some who preferred how it was. One of these dissenters is longtime downtown resident Donna-Maria Lopez, who claimed to have attended the first Art Walk back in September 2004.
"Art Walk used be about quality, not quantity," said Lopez, trying to cool a plate of Komodo's Blazin' Shrimp by blowing on it. "Ten years ago, everything was smaller, more scaled down, but more effective. All we needed was a handful of die-hard art fans, some optimism and that old-school Gringos taco truck. That's what a true art scene is really about."
Lopez stopped, as she heard the vendor from the Seoul Sausage Company shout her name.
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