Downtown Art Walk: Debating its future
In the seven years since downtown Los Angeles business owners took a flier on the idea that people would stroll the edge of skid row to browse art galleries, Art Walk has morphed from urban experiment into signature event, drawing up to 30,000 people the second Thursday of every month. With its popularity have come "growing pains,” as Art Walk Executive director Joe Moller calls it. Crowded sidewalks, gridlocked streets and visitors less interested in shopping for art than boozing it up at the bars that have sprouted along Spring and Main streets have made some gallery owners rethink their involvement and provoked dissension in the past years among the organizers.
A fatal accident at last month’s event led City Council members Jan Perry and Jose Huizar to set up a multi-agency city task force to review Art Walk. That death also prompted the Times editorial board to take a look at Art Walk and ask some questions: Has the event changed into something that is bad for downtown? Is it a victim of its own success? We talked to city officials as well as organizers past and present, then weighed in with our own thoughts -- just as the city gears up for its next Art Walk tomorrow.
-- Carla Hall
Photo: The streets of downtown Los Angeles begin to heat up as a DJ spins some sound during Art Walk in downtown Los Angeles on Jan.13, 2011. Credit: Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times