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Meet David Bell of Visitor Welcome Center

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Bell.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up on an ecological nature preserve, I had an early understanding of respecting land and resources and also honoring those that were here before us. After high school, I worked for the U.S. Forest Service as a firefighter for multiple years before committing myself to a life in the arts. Visitor Welcome Center opened at the start of 2016, though the curatorial side of my practice essentially began in 2011 with a solo exhibition of artist Tiffany Smith titled You had your chance, you blew it. The show took place in a small converted garage I was living in, as well as a shed full of tools and gas and chemicals. Between 2012-2015 I ran a space on Broadway and 5th named Dave Gallery and was organizing shows in other alternative spaces.

At the time, I was still trying to push my own art into the world, it wasn’t until a performance I did where I had just been maced by a stand up comedian and I laid on the ground eyes on fire watching one of my exes vomit that I decided maybe holding space for others was a better way to utilize my privilege. Many of the artists’ that exhibited in those daysI’mm still expanding relationships with today, iris hu, Kim Ye, Jimena Sarno, to name a few. Perhaps the gallery now feels a little more serious; having said that VWC had not been christened until Kim Ye pissed on the floor, as she had done in my previous spaces.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I think most people assume that if you run a gallery there is money coming in from some other place (often times there is) I wish someone was sending me checks every month, but it is just not the case; so often finding alternative ways to pay the bills is necessary. Early this year Kim Ye launched the website Ladyscumbag.com and hosted workshops, from underwear making to vagina casting in order to raise money for the gallery.

Next summer iris hu is focused on working with larger institutions throughout LA to start a school and resource center. Right now its about doing the labor and believing in the work, building a narrative that’s not so linear. It’s not easy, but its a commitment not a choir. I never feel like I am doing enough.

Visitor Welcome Center – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I do not see the Visitor Welcome Center as only an art gallery, I see it as a place for people to tell their stories, grieve and be together. I see it as a domestic space, a place to spend time and live with objects and situations people create often in their most vulnerable times. We are not a commercial space, but we do sell art, their is a group of artists that make up the core of the space and it expands outward from them. There seems to be a lack of truth in trends, so I tend to avoid them and lead with the heart.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
A solid group of friends and a nice pair of shoes.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 3006 West 7th st Suite 200
    Los Angeles CA 90005
  • Website: visitorwelcomecenter.org
  • Phone: 2137031914
  • Email: info@visitorwelcomecenter.org
  • Instagram: visitorwelcomecenter

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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