A common telling is to look up at all the tall buildings in Downtown Los Angeles and to be reminded of all the history. However, what is often missed is the city’s foundation. For example, the streets that are walked on daily. Despite Downtown LA’s cons like traffic and pollution, art is illustrated here in its purest form. A heavy taste of true “LA culture” is presented through the Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk.
Walking down Spring street, a variety of artists can be found, such as the artist by the name of Derek Elton. Elton has been drawing since the age of three, but it wasn’t until the year of 2000 that it became his profession. Along with Southern California’s great weather, his specialty in comics brought him from Washington state in 2013. He stayed in San Diego until realizing that the city was too strict when it came to street vending and he knew it would be easier to sell in Los Angeles.
His comics mostly draw the attention to an “eighteen to fifty demographic” and he will occasionally make drawings that are more “kid friendly.”
One of his most eye-catching pieces is his Pulp Fiction piece. Mia Wallace is portrayed as Snow White to emulate her addiction to cocaine. As we know, one of cocaine’s many nicknames is “snow” which explains the entirety of the drawing.
When Elton is not participating in the art walk he is selling his art on Hollywood Blvd, at Comic Cons or online. Elton’s artwork can be found on Instagram and Facebook. He will be participating in this year’s Los Angeles Comic Con and will hold off on participating in Long Beach Comic Con after his experience.
“In Long Beach I didn’t do too well. It’s too laid back,” Elton shared.
A few booths away from Elton, there was a table full of vintage cameras owned by an artist, David Ruano. This fella has way more talents than what was laid out on the table. His talents include photography, filmmaking, designing, writing and skating.
Ruano lived in Mexico until about the age of four, before his family migrated to the city of Gardena. It wasn’t until early 2016 that Ruano began to master his arts. When asking what inspired these creative arts to be introduced into his life, he responded with “nothing and everything.”
Along with the special vintage cameras on the table, that were attracting a diverse range of people, was a typewriter. Ruano uses his typewriter to write poems and haikus, which he was selling out of box for a dollar. There are more light-hearted writings on those notecards, but digging deeper, it only got darker. Ruano began with photography and filmmaking before getting into writing.
“Instead of spending four hours on photoshop, let’s just use a camera,” he thought.
When he began collecting vintage cameras at places like swap meets, yard sales and thrift stores, he also discovered typewriters. Since he was in the filmmaking and photography industry already, he was aware they needed writers.
“I was trying to put my picture worth a thousand words into actual words,” Ruano said.
He has written and directed short films and is currently working on a script for another one called “Dying Slowly”.
“Whether I am inspired or not inspired, I need to create.” Ruano emphasized that when in the art field, discipline is heavily required.
Like majority of creatives these days, Ruano markets his work on all major social media platforms such as Instagram, Youtube and Twitter, but he also has his own website that displays a gallery of his work.
One artist that can not be missed is muralist, Robert Vargas. Just look for a crowd of people on the corner of 6th and Spring. In front of his very own mural, Vargas showed off his talent by picking out random people crowded around him and began his free hand strokes.
He started off with an introduction about himself and his movement, further announcing that he is always pulling people from his community to be apart of his story “Angeles”.
“It’s about the people, because that’s what it’s all about, right?” Vargas emphasized that his art is for the culture.
Continuing on Spring, Hive Gallery displays work by an artist named Patrick Haemmerlein. Originally from New York, Haemmerlein decided to move out to the West after attending Savannah College of Art and Design. Putting his BFA to use, what he depicts is powerful.
It began with eighteen years of photography. Haemmerlein captures the juxtaposition of where he was from (a more rural environment) to his new home, Los Angeles (an urban environment). These captured photographs soon turned into watercolors and prints since 2006.
Though he has a theme of “nature vs industry”, he leaves his art open to interpretation. He adds touches to his work with the names of songs which are used as his piece’s title, old articles from the 1800s-1900s that correlate to the piece, words from the dictionary relative to his depiction, Shakespeare and math problems.
“Always a math problem in there, because you can’t do anything without math,” Haemmerlein stated.
DTLA Art Walk is a great way to gain appreciation for the city and its culture. It reveals people and their stories, as well as provide another perspective of the world. Artists make a difference by expressing their voice through their work and that’s the beauty of it.
You can catch a glimpse of this culture on the second Thursday of each month. Participating will help support local communities and allow for growth in small businesses, galleries, artists and most importantly the youth.