Works of art created by artists of every generation is on display at the biannual Brewery Artwalk near the Los Angeles River outside of Downtown Los Angeles. It’s a bi-annual event that takes place at the Brewery Arts Complex inside vintage industrial lofts once owned by the Los Angeles Brewing Company (later Pabst) and the Edison Electric Steam Power Plant. The complex was transformed into artist residences in 1982.
Click on images to view full-size in a gallery
To get there, my partner and I took the LA Metro to Union Station and then boarded the #76 bus. It dropped us off directly in front of the Brewery ArtWalk complex. As we walked through the doors of the historic former brewery, we were greeted by a friendly young man who offered us wine. It was a great start to our wondrous tour of talented Los Angeles artist’s lofts.
The Brewery Artwalk Complex
It was easy to get lost in the maze of winding hallways and rickety stairs. After a while, I completely lost my sense of direction. It didn’t matter, though, because no matter where we ended up, we were treated to an experience that was unique to itself. Each loft is an artist’s personal living and working space. You could see each artist’s whimsy, madness, or clear observation of what inspired his or her creative mind.
Their visions were transferred to canvas, walls, photographs, jewelry, ceramics, sculpture, performance art, and even kitschy kitchen magnets.
The colors, paints, the symmetry of arrangement, or non-symmetry were almost overwhelming but completely captivating.
Freedom to be creative at any age
Not all the artists were young. Many were Baby Boomers and seniors living as bohemians in retirement (or not) reveling in their fantasies and enjoying the fruits of their artistic expression. Most of them appeared to be thriving and productive, although I’m sure there are a few who struggle. The business of art has always been a dicey profession
Several of the artists had high-tech equipment and were working on shiny computer monitors with graphic displays to monetize their talents as graphic designers, video producers, commercial photographers, architects, clothing, and jewelry designers.
The Brewery is the world’s largest artist-in-residence community and largest art complex with 500-700 artists living and working within its walls. It’s an amazing support community where artists collaborate, inspire, and nurture each other.
Watch this video and view its commentary on life at the Brewery Arts Complex. I love that many of the artists are over 50, living their dreams and expressing themselves in later life. If I had any talent as an artist, I’d want to live there too.
I ran into an artist I knew who I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. His kids went to school with mine and I was friends with his wife. He sublets the space to work in but still lives in the Valley. What a small world to find someone I knew among the hundreds of visitors who were strolling through over 100 open lofts.
Afterward, we headed outside into the courtyard of the Brewery ArtWalk where there was a restaurant and outdoor tables set up. We ordered sausage sandwiches and beer and sat at a shady table outside.
Toward the back of the complex is the old Edison Electric Steam Power Plant building built in 1904. Itwas used to supply energy to run street lights and the old and long-gone Red Car electric rail system. For a while, it was a gumball factory. Half of the building are lofts and the other half (originally the Edison boiler room) has been transformed into a gigantic rock climbing structure. Kids and adults were hanging on colorful walls throughout the cavernous room.
We got plenty of exercise climbing steep stairs to go from one loft to the other in the Edison Building. But, we didn’t mind because we found amazing artists on every floor.
Some of the upper lofts hold spectacular views of the complex and surrounding area.
Not all the lofts are galleries. Some are performance art spaces for experimental theater and music. Another was being used for cooking classes. While we were there they gave us samples of colorful spring rolls and creamy soup.
Other displays were comical like an altar dedicated to a dead Asian artist with fried chicken left as an offering. . .
. . . and a room dedicated to pot art. (as in cannabis)
I bought a cookbook and a photography book depicting the art scene in Downtown LA.
It takes more than one day to see everything at the Brewery ArtWalk.
The Brewery ArtWalk takes place every spring and fall and is free to attend. It gives the artists in residence an opportunity to sell their work, promote books, and sell services. You can hang out, drink beer, and be inspired.
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Have you ever dreamed of living in a downtown loft? What kind of art would you create? Please leave a comment below.