Artwalk Brings Bourbon Street to Los Angeles

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Isiah Reyes, El Vaquero Staff Writer

Every second Thursday of the month, thousands of people from all walks of life congregate at the Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk to admire works of art.

That was the original intention.

But since the Art Walk began in September 2004, the artwork has become the second attraction at this event. The main attraction is now the music, food, and nightlife experience.

This month’s Art Walk seemed like an alternate version of Bourbon Street, with live music on street corners and tourists wandering around looking for things to buy.

For those who do go for the art, there is a lot to enjoy.

The artwork inside the galleries is fantastic. It ranges from photography, to paintings, to elaborate sculptures to pottery. Some artists even create the work on the spot so people walking by can witness how it’s made.

The art in all the galleries differs greatly, from humorous pieces to sinister drawings. There is something to cater to every taste.

There is also live music in different galleries, such as The Hive Gallery, which had a DJ mixing his beats. In addition, vendors sell jewelry, clothing and books.

Food is also a big draw at this event. Competition is strong as food trucks compete for sales in an alley that is packed to the brim with people. Some of the trucks include Lobsta Truck, Slammin’ Sliders, Slap Yo Mama, and the The Bun Truck.

In fact, the food has such a grapple-hold on the event that it could be called “Truck Walk” or the “Food Walk” and people still wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

Inside the Temple of Visions art gallery, patrons really take in the art and the venue has a lot of space. The Hive gallery on the other hand is tight and gets hot and stuffy.

Every gallery offers its own ambiance. Most of the galleries are on Spring Street, but they scatter over the surrounding blocks. All the galleries are free of charge.

The police officers at intersections help pedestrians cross the street because there are just so many people. It’s the people wandering around with no interest in art who drag the experience down. All they add is the smell of booze and marijuana that permeates the air. They block sidewalks and most of them don’t even enter a single gallery.

Back in July, a baby lost its life and a mother was severely injured when a Cadillac lost control during a parallel parking maneuver. Even though the car’s driver, about 22 years old, passed initial DUI investigations and didn’t appear to have been under the influence of anything, more officers are present than in the past.

More officers on patrol is a good thing. Once the Art Walk finishes around 10 p.m., the after parties begin in bars and nightclubs and go on as late as 2 a.m. With so many people in the area, things could get out of hand.

One trip to the Art Walk could either be cheap or expensive, depending on what you do. Street parking is free after 6 p.m. but with so many people, there is practically no street parking available. Parking in a lot is typically between $5 and $12. The food is reasonably priced.

Although the event can be hectic and the focus has shifted from art to the nightlife, it’s good that such an event even exists. It takes away the stigma that downtown only has homeless people and nighttime zombies roaming its streets.

Businesses and restaurants near the Art Walk also want to impress possible patrons and draw attention, so they’ll possibly have better service that night. Not necessarily a guarantee, but one can hope.

Overall, those interested in art and want to see some really creative work, this is definitely the place to be. Those not into art and just want a place to go with friends and have a good time, this is also the place to be. Either way, everyone should visit the Art Walk at least once before they can’t get the chance to.

For more information, go to http://www.downtownartwalk.org.