With a dynamic creative community of artists, galleries, collectors, and museums that has reached a critical mass, Los Angeles is by any measure one of the world’s most important cities for contemporary art. Engaging children (and some adults) in the contemporary art scene can be tricky, however, and those sometimes-snooty gallery staffers sure don’t make it easier! But attending art walks and open studios, which by design are welcoming and festive, is a great way to see a lot of contemporary art in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.
There are several art walks in Los Angeles that take place regularly, including some, like the monthly First Fridays on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice and the Downtown Art Walk, that occur at night and draw large crowds of young adults. Following are profiles of a few other art events that are especially family friendly, starting with the Venice Art Walk, which is coming up soon on May 17.
Venice Art Walk & Auctions
Sunday, May 17, 2015 noon–6 pm
Now in its 36th year, the Venice Art Walk is perhaps the granddaddy of all LA open studio events. Begun in 1975 as a way to tap into the resources of Venice’s then-burgeoning artists’ community for the benefit of the Venice Family Clinic—which some of the local artists without insurance relied on for their own healthcare—the event highlights are a contemporary art silent auction that is free and open to the public, plus ticketed studio and architecture tours ($50/per person, free for children 12 and younger).
For the last few years, Google has hosted this event in their Frank Gehry-designed Main Street offices (340 Main Street) known for the enormous binocular entrance by artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The silent auction is highly regarded, and features works donated by hundreds of emerging and established artists, including many with deep ties to Venice such as Charles Arnoldi, Billy Al Bengston, Guy Dill, Laddie John Dill, Ed Ruscha, and others.
Photos: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Venice Family Clinic
Children can look forward to art-making including clay sculpting with artist Gary Steinborn and tote bag decorating, live music, face painting, kids yoga sessions (at 2:30 pm and 4:30 pm), and more. Be sure to stop by the Community Celebration located behind Google on Hampton Drive for gourmet food trucks and restaurant stations, muralists, a dog day care “Barking Lot,” artisan shops, and a kid-friendly “Imagination Station.”
Shuttles run from the free parking lot at Walgrove Elementary School (1630 Walgrove Avenue) and the closer-but-paid lot at Westminster Elementary School ($12, 1010 Abbot Kinney Boulevard); you also might consider biking to the event and taking advantage of the free bike valet on the Sunset Avenue side of the venue. In addition to being a fun way to explore and purchase art, this annual event raises more than $650,000 to fund healthcare for the 20,000 low-income, uninsured, and homeless patients of the Venice Family Clinic.
Brewery Art Walk
The Brewery Arts Complex (2100 N. Main Street) is a 16-acre campus located east of Downtown Los Angeles. It was created in 1982 in a former Pabst Blue Ribbon Brewery as a place for artists to live and work, a real “arts district” before there was an Arts District in Los Angeles.
Twice a year, in the spring and fall, more than one hundred artists roll-up the doors of their cavernous converted warehouse spaces for two days during an open studio weekend. The Brewery is the workspace and for many, the home of sculptors, painters, installation artists, photographers, jewelry makers and others, and families are invited to engage with this vibrant community to view the artists' work, meet them in person, and converse about the art. Food and drink are available in the complex’s beer garden, as well as at the on-site restaurant, Barbara’s @ the Brewery. Admission and parking are free; the next Brewery Art Walk will take place in the fall, likely in October.
Inglewood Open Studios
November 14–15, 2015
Looking for a more low-key art walk experience? Check out the Inglewood Open Studios, which take place each year during the second weekend in November. This self-guided tour is organized around twelve different Inglewood hubs where artists maintain studios. City trams stop at each location every half hour, and last year more than sixty artists were on hand to open their studios and greet the public. Free!
Written by Stacey Ravel Abarbanel