Downtown's Renaissance has been a work in progress for many years, but with the stylish crowds and high caliber art on display, last night's Art Walk may have hinted that Downtown L.A. has finally come of age. Instead of rubber gloves and strip club fliers lining the streets (as in, let's say, 2001), a diverse and fashion-forward cross-section of L.A.'s art hounds pounded the pavement.
From Pharmaka's huge Barbie portraits by Dennis Dutzi, to the Hive's exploration of taboos in “Erotica vs. Nudes: Photography,” the walk traversed artistic styles, be it decorative, outsider, or fine art. But the art is only part of the night. The walk is the most interesting part. The music, the street food, and of course, the eclectic people make the Art Walk a thriving epicenter of activity.
Unlike the solely hipster and art student meanderings of previous years, recent Art Walks celebrate a multitude of styles on the streets: business men still in suits, ties loosened; dog walkers who resemble their pets; “cool moms” explicating erotica to neon-clad high schoolers; and cyclists with 'staches and glasses sipping beer can while their bikes lean against fire hydrants and light poles. For a moment, Downtown L.A. feels heavy, like the whole city leans towards it as the city recalibrates the focus away from the coast.
For a centerless metropolis like Los Angeles, the Art Walk aptly approximates the sights, styles, and, yes, some smells of world-class cities. It's a sensory conundrum that inexplicably delineates a cityscape– that strange juxtaposition of smells wafting the savory aroma of bacon-wrapped hot dogs (a.k.a danger dogs) mixed with acrid blast of hot garbage and urine. But somewhere between in the bustle of people, the smells, and gallery enclosed spectacles, the art walk follows in the footsteps of first class cities like London, Barcelona, or New York. Is L.A. there yet? Not quite, but the Art Walk is a step in the right direction.