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Meet Mitzella of The Brewery Artwalk Association

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mitzella.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
The Brewery Artwalk Association is a nonprofit arts organization. I have six years of experience working with the Brewery Artwalk Association (BAA). Four years as President and two years before that as Logistics Director. The organization’s main purpose is to provide an alternative venue for art exposure which we do through our biannual artwalks and open studios. Our events take place at the Brewery Art Complex in Lincoln Heights which is home to about 500 artists in residence.

The Brewery Artwalk provides resident artists the opportunity to connect directly with the public, the art industry, and other working artists. This unique ability to connect with artists in their studios offers visitors a chance to directly engage in meaningful educational dialogue with the artist about their work and processes. As an artist, myself and a resident of the Brewery Arts Complex I’ve seen first-hand how enriching this experience can be for both the artist and the participants.

It’s hard to discuss the Brewery Artwalk without going into a little history of the complex itself. The Brewery Arts Complex has been in existence since the ’80s and is often referred to as the world’s largest artist-in-residence community. The Carlson family purchased the property in 1982 right after the city passed the Artist-in-Residence ordinance which allowed for the use of industrial buildings in the downtown LA area as live/work studio space for artists. The complex spans over 16 acres and sits on the site of the former Pabst Blue Ribbon Brewery.

It also encompasses several surrounding buildings such as the old California Edison Los Angeles #3 Steam Power Plant built in 1904 and designed by John Parkinson (the architect responsible for many of LA’s iconic structures of that era including City Hall and Union Station.) The Power Plant, easily identifiable by its iconic smokestack, was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1988 and is even represented in the BAA’s logo design.

The Brewery Artwalk started in the early 80’s not long after the Brewery Art Complex was formed. The first open studios were conceived of and organized by as a loose collection of residents which eventually formed into the non-profit Brewery Artwalk Association that organizes and runs the event today. I’m proud to say that we are in our 37th year which, I think, says something for the quality of the event to have that kind of staying power.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
In terms of challenges that we’ve faced- certainly, the increased widespread popularity of artwalks and art fairs, in general, has proven to give us a lot more competition in recent years. I think one of the things that sets us apart from other artwalks is the opportunity for visitors to connect with artists directly in their studio spaces.

This differs from a traditional gallery experience where you may never meet or even see the artist. When you come to the Brewery Artwalk in many cases, you’re walking right into the artist’s home as well as their work studio. In this way, you tend to get a very intimate understanding of the artist, what their influences are and what processes they use to create their art.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Brewery Artwalk Association – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
The Brewery Artwalk is an open studio weekend at the world’s largest artist colony, The Brewery Arts Complex. The event takes place two weekends a year in the Spring and Fall from 11 am to 6 pm. Admission and parking are free. There are (give or take) 500 artists living and working at the Brewery at any given time.

An average artwalk will typically include about 150 participating resident artists opening up their studios to the public. Unlike many art fairs, the Brewery Artwalk offers visitors the unique opportunity of visiting artists directly in their studios.

This open studio format allows the public to get a first-hand look at how artists live and work, have meaningful interactions with the artists about their processes and perhaps even be inspired to create their own art. With 16 acres and 21 buildings to explore even repeat visitors are guaranteed to discover something new and surprising.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
With such a long-standing history, a big part of the job is ensuring The Brewery Artwalk continues to stay relevant into the future.

To that end, the BAA has been working on some projects designed to do just that- including documenting and preserving Brewery Artwalk history, exploring community outreach opportunities with local schools and creating new and different ways to connect artists with the public.

It’s an exciting time for artists in Los Angeles right now, and I feel very honored to not just be a part of that, but also to be helping to create it.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
James Payne, Chance Artworks

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