Artwork of every sort and from every generation comes together at the 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 the industrial buildings of the vintage Los Angeles Brewing Company (later Pabst) and the Edison Electric Steam Power Plant. The complex was transformed into artist’s lofts in 1982.
Click on images to view full-size
You may also enjoy: The History of Drinking in Los Angeles – Vintage Boozing
We hopped on the Red Line from North Hollywood and took the #76 bus. It dropped us off directly in front of the Brewery ArtWalk complex. As we walked through the doors, we were greeted by a friendly young man who offered us wine. What 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 buildings as they are a 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 what space we walked into, we were treated to an experience that was unique to itself. Each loft is an artist’s personal living and working space. As we walked through doors we could see the artist’s whimsy, madness, or clear observation of what flowed through his or her creative mind.
That vision was 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 was almost overwhelming but completely captivating.
Oh, to be twenty again and live amongst creatives, free to express yourself however you like.
Not all the artists were young. Many were Baby Boomers and seniors living as colorful bohemians in retirement (or not) reveling in their fantasies or enjoying the fruits of life-long artistic success. 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 had high tech equipment like big and shiny computer monitors with graphic displays and were monetizing 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. 500-700 artists live and work in the buildings. It’s an amazing support community where artists collaborate, inspire and nurture each other.
Watch this video and view 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. Dang, I want to live there!
We walked into one of the lofts and I saw a man I hadn’t seen in almost 20 years. He’s an artist whose 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 amongst 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. After buying sausage sandwiches and beer, we sat at a shady table next to a couple our age who live in Los Feliz. They turned out to be fabulous and fun.
Toward the back of the complex is the old Edison Electric Steam Power Plant building built in 1904 which was used to supply energy to run street lights and the 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 as we navigated steep stairs to go from one loft to the other in the Edison Building. It was almost as challenging as when we climbed the steps to get to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. 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 spaces for experimental theater and music. One holds cooking classes and was giving out samples of colorful spring rolls and creamy soup.
Other displays were comical like an altar dedicated to a dead Asian artist with fried chicken as an offering. . .
. . . and a room dedicated to pot art. (as in cannabis)
I ended up buying a cool cookbook and a gorgeous photography book depicting the art scene in Downtown LA.
It takes more than one day to see everything at the Brewery ArtWalk. If I didn’t have an event the next day I would have gone back for more.
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. To me, it was much more fun than going to a museum. Hang out, drink beer, and be inspired. What more can you ask for?
Save for later on Pinterest.
Have you ever dreamed of living in a downtown loft? What kind of art would you create? Please leave a comment below.
Planning a Trip to Los Angeles?
Find a hotel in Los Angeles
- Booking.com – Find a hotel in Los Angeles.
- My favorite Downtown Los Angeles Hotels include The Ace Hotel, Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown Hotel, The Ritz Carlton Los Angeles at LA Live, and the Hotel Figueroa.
Get the best price on a flight to Los Angeles
- Hotwire – Find the most affordable flight to Los Angeles on an awesome search engine
Rent a car in California
- Hertz offers car rentals that are affordable and trust-worthy.
Tour Los Angeles