I always had a fantasy of living the artist’s lifestyle in a garret somewhere cold; living and working passionately in a tiny studio, loving my soul mate and dying of a disease. Oh wait! That’s La Boheme isn’t it? or if you’re into the contemporary version, Rent. Actually, artist colonies do exist in Los Angeles although being a bit more livable, healthier, and much warmer.
Anyways Lex and I visited one of the world’s largest artist colonies named the Brewery Arts Complex near downtown Los Angeles. Bi-annually in April and October, over 100 artists open their studios and living spaces and invite the public to see their world. The entire area covers 16 acres (64749.70 m²) and is an industrially zoned space where only artists are allowed to live and work. These are not apartments.
Before the creation of the Brewery Arts Complex in 1982, it was the site of a Pabst Blue Ribbon Brewery. The once former warehouses were converted to housing and studio spaces. Prior to the Pabst Brewery, the area was home to the Edison Electric Steam Power Plant built in 1903. The imposing tall brick chimney used for the plant still exists.
We tried to visit as many studios as possible but there were so many! Also, it’s pretty easy to get lost in one of the maze-like buildings. There are turns and corners at each stairwell revealing a labyrinth of studio spaces and wonderful works of art. Our favorite was walking the wobbly catwalk between the buildings and being rewarded with a wonderful view of downtown Los Angeles.
Every creative endeavor and medium seemed to be represented with paintings, sculptures, photography, industrial design, jewelry, textiles, fashion, and new media. One fellow Lex met created the most unique sculpture/paintings.
My particular favorites were enormous mythical creatures made of paper and light glowing in the dark.
All of the artwork was available for sale and admission to the art walk was free. There’s also a free parking lot nearby but it does get filled pretty fast. We had a fantastic time and enjoyed visiting and talking to the artists who are so passionate about their amazing creations.