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Meet Masha Elakovic

Today we’d like to introduce you to Masha Elakovic.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I always found that art was in every part and piece in my life, but I never thought that being an artist was something one had to be vocal about- it felt as if it were almost a sweet secret and sometimes a burden that I had to live with. My story begins with this space itself…

My father was by profession a photographer and by his nature an artist. He was first and foremost a people person, he was a poet, and the camera was his weapon for revealing the subjects from the inside out. Most days after the school bell rang, I spent time at his photo studio which was located at a small private airport (Santa Monica Airport). He and his group of artists and creatives from all parts of the world and from all disciplines and histories were my teachers and mentors. The studio was my creative nest where I even had my own area to leave my cello, my personal projects, journals, and pictures. One of my first gifts which began my ‘creative’ career, was a pink polaroid camera. Though we didn’t have money for bread, my father made it a point that I had ten images on each roll and to carefully choose who and what I was snapping. After the camera, came the video camera where I was able to host shows, conduct interviews and explore my surroundings. Art was an outlet, an open journal and the studio was my ever-changing masterpiece.

Years later, my father left the studio in shambles after his own artistic blackhole and depression brought him back to his native city of Belgrade, Serbia. Meanwhile, little old me finished college and whimsically explored the world with a handful of odd jobs and as always a suitcase full of napkins, journals, and images, I came right back to the studio. I began to clean his mess, organize his slides and proof sheets, to place his dried bugs and lizards, old lightbulbs, marbles and old camera gear decoratively around the space. Anticipating his return, I carefully created a haven for him to work productively whilst hosting artists and friends of my own to hang out, work with me and use the space for their own needs. Eventually, I was presented with the fact that the annual Santa Monica Airport Artwork was just around the corner. After being encouraged by a couple of friends, I took a stab at hosting and curating a show of my own, in the very playground that had taught me everything I needed to know. I did it with such passion and joy that it was thrilling. Eleven artists, one simple theme: ‘Airplane Mode’. This first exhibition gave me all the answers I needed and gave me a title I could easily jot down on a business card: curator.

Fast forward to 5 years later: my father never came back to his studio because he had a sudden heart attack. Today, I have a studio baby of my own, a 6-month girl. This is why I am still here because he lives forevermore in this space and I plan to hold on as long as I can.

Please tell us about your art.
My personal art is intimate and never on display, but the space allows me to feel as close and involved with art as I like to be. The space in a sense is my art.

The studio I created after my father left was meant to be a revolving open door. It became, ironically, a ‘runway for ideas’. Artists both local and international have reached out, and I have proudly displayed them. From solo shows to Group shows, to screenings, concerts, photo, and video shoots, workshops and installations, the space continues to change and grow.

I love change, and while I can’t change the way things look outside, I can change the way I do things within my little nook here. It started out with a couple of brilliant friends who came to volunteer and have a good time. While all of them had their own interests, the studio became a hub for an exchange of ideas, a place to meet a new friend, a place to bring a date… Everyone who would walk in would always leave satisfied, and most people would come back or send a friend. It runs entirely on word of mouth, and I trust that that is art itself. While we do have a Facebook and a website, (finally now, I have an incredibly dedicated and brilliant friend who has redone this just a month ago), most people come from the clear blue sky. The fact is that I am terrible with organization, but I can proudly say that I am a good host. I enjoy company, new people and art that isn’t ridiculously overpriced and behind glass. I also feel that anything could be art if you put it in a decent frame and proper context. If someone has an idea, I am happy to elaborate, to hang it up, to make the space their own and to have them leave their footprint with a little ‘studio106’ touch and a bar-full of sangria.

Over 30 plus private and public shows later and I still haven’t earned enough money to pay rent, and yet we are still here, and people are still coming, and I expect myself to do another show and meet another brilliant artist who will enchant the space. Just yesterday I had a meeting with a duo who are interested in producing a play there.

I want people to break the mold and formalities we have created around art. While I respect museums as institutions, I think galleries need to give it a break… art is everywhere, and art is everything. Art is a late night conversation with a bottle of wine, an awesome friend and a space with great acoustics and lighting. Art is discovery. Art is frustration and satisfaction at the same time. I find it boring to go to a show and clap at things that I’ve seen before or frankly something that I too can create with my team of crafty friends. When big money is involved, it changes everything, and it brings competition. All the artists that produced their work here came on their own initiative and were so eager to create that it was inspiring. Each show sold at least two pieces and the joy that the artist felt was one that made me happy and proud because they went on to do wonderful things and they continue to travel the world, and as always, the studio network continues to expand.

Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
We curate the space as the times go, most of our events are relevant to the political or social climate around us. Artists are meant to provoke, they are meant to unite people and to give light to whatever they find important. I do think, that art should not be molded to the spectator, rather an organic inclination should be nurtured toward the piece or the collection, etc. My job as the studio-host is to engage. So, if the room was simply painted red, and we played a high-C it is my pleasure to explain what the artist meant. *This sounds like a great idea and maybe our next show.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
People should come and make an appointment to see the space. They should come with an open mind and the desire to be a part of their community. Support, for the space, is in a healthy balance of critique, admiration and a suitcase full of concepts ( and of course hands to help).

Contact Info:

  • Address: 3021 Airport Avenue # 106
    Santa Monica, CA 90405
  • Website:
  • Phone: 310,999,5681
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @studio106la

Image Credit:
Benjamin Shmikler photo, personal iPhone images

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