Earlier this year, the art galleries of Chinatown have started an art walk; last night I attended my first.Chinatown Gallery Reception Desk Image Courtesy Diane Calder
There's a large subset of art world patrons, who, when asked to draw a map of Los Angeles, would (like the rest of us) draw the Pacific Ocean as the city's western edge. But the north, east, and south edges would probably reach as far as Mulholland Drive, Hancock Park, and Culver City, respectively. In an effort to expand these patrons' Saul Steinbergian view of the city, and to coax their still-functioning checkbooks to the city's nether regions, the galleries of Chinatown have instituted quarterly art nights.
In the past, the spaces of Chung King Road served as quasi storage facilities in between art fairs; in fact Peres Projects had turned his old space into just that. It was not uncommon to make a weekday trip to Chinatown and see art hung and lit, and the front doors locked. But the art world is a different place in 2009. Some galleries have closed while others are bunking down together.
I couldn't help but notice a change in the crowds. There seemed to be more of the middle class tattooed rock and rollers that prowl the downtown banking district. Chinatown also has some new retail spaces that appeal to their tastes; there are new home furnishings and clothing stores, along with the old souvenir shops that have been there since the days of the Last Emperor.
Still, there are worthwhile galleries to visit. Most of them have gravitated away from the pedestrian/tourist area, and are clustered along Hill Street and in the mixed residential neighborhood to the northeast. Current group shows at Solway Jones, Sam Lee, Tomas Solomon Gallery (in Acuna Hansen's old space on Bernard St.) and Cottage Home Gallery (a collaboration between Tom Solomon, China Art Objects, and Sister) all show promise. Or if you live west of La Brea, you can wait until December and fly to Miami.