The Frogtown Artwalk Celebrates its 10th Anniversary

The Frogtown Artwalk Celebrates its 10th Anniversary

Written by Patrick Quinn

 

The tiny neighborhood of Elysian Valley recently held its annual celebration of art and community.  Thousands of people from all parts of the city joined in the festivities.  Visitors explored local artist’s studios, drank locally brewed beer, and listen to local bands playing on makeshift stages.  But nobody was sporting an ‘I love Elysian Valley’ t-shirt.  To the 8,000 residents, their home has always been known as Frogtown.

Stretching roughly two miles alongside the L.A. River, the area has been long overshadowed by its trendy neighbors; Silver Lake, Echo Park, and Atwater Village.  But eventually the cheap rents and available industrial spaces began to attract artists.  One of the very first was ceramic artist Michael Todd.   Back in 1985, he purchased a warehouse from a flooring company in the northern end of Frogtown.  He had heard the neighborhood was pretty rough, but the police assured him that the gangs usually left the residents alone.  That turned out to be the case, though occasionally somebody would abandon a stolen car on the street and light it on fire.  Those times have long past, as have the days of affordable housing.  Frogtown has been discovered and gentrification has officially arrived.  Or as Michael Todd puts it, he finally has a good restaurant within walking distance, but good luck finding parking on a Saturday night.

Michael Todd Studios held a ceramic sale to benefit Zebulon, a Café & Performance space opening soon. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

Michael Todd Studios held a ceramic sale to benefit Zebulon, a Café & Performance space opening soon. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

 

The venues displaying art were as eclectic as the work itself. Visitors could explore industrial buildings converted into studios as well as more traditional galleries. High-profile architectural firms opened their doors as did NOMAD studios, the first artist compound in Frogtown. There was live music at three official stages along with some lively front-yard jam sessions. Local restaurants featured art and music, and Frogtown Brewery, which doesn’t officially open until the end of year, offered tastings of their beer. But the real party started after the sun set and a variety of light installation pieces turned the river itself into a work of art.

Long-time Frogtown artist Michael Todd and a friend. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

Long-time Frogtown artist Michael Todd and a friend. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

 

The LA River in Frogtown. (Photo credit Kristine Schomaker)

The LA River in Frogtown. (Photo credit Kristine Schomaker)

 

Perfect weather for art, a stroll along the river, and cats. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

Perfect weather for art, a stroll along the river, and cats. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

 

SJM Fine Art featured works by artist Stacie Jaye Meyer. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

SJM Fine Art featured works by artist Stacie Jaye Meyer. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

 

RAC Design Build showed a variety of artists including Mary-Austin Klein. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

RAC Design Build showed a variety of artists including Mary-Austin Klein. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

 

Creative Campus artists Grant Davis & Grove Pashley showcased an interactive installation. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

Creative Campus artists Grant Davis & Grove Pashley showcased an interactive installation. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

 

This unusual frog from artists Mark Landwehr and Sven Waschk was on display at Coarse Studios. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

This unusual frog from artists Mark Landwehr and Sven Waschk was on display at Coarse Studios. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

 

More from Coarse Studios. (Photo credit Kristine Schomaker)

More from Coarse Studios. (Photo credit Kristine Schomaker)

 

Spoke Bicycle Café offered food, drinks, music, and live art. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

Spoke Bicycle Café offered food, drinks, music, and live art. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

 

Spoke Bicycle Café  (photo credit Kristine Schomaker)

Spoke Bicycle Café (photo credit Kristine Schomaker)

 

Spoke Bicycle Café (photo credit Kristine Schomaker)

Spoke Bicycle Café (photo credit Kristine Schomaker)

 

photo credit Kristine Schomaker (7)

Open Studio #15 Frogtown (photo credit Kristine Schomaker)

 

Taqueria Venganza was one of the local vendors who set up a food stand for the day. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

Taqueria Venganza was one of the local vendors who set up a food stand for the day. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

 

If you didn’t feel like walking, there were free Pedicabs available. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

If you didn’t feel like walking, there were free Pedicabs available. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

 

It was a full house at Cactus Gallery with work by numerous artists including Joe Alvarez and Susan Amorde. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

It was a full house at Cactus Gallery with work by numerous artists including Joe Alvarez and Susan Amorde. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

 

A great selection of work at Cactus Gallery. Foreground, from Susan Amorde's Baggage series. (photo credit Kristine Schomaker)

A great selection of work at Cactus Gallery. Foreground, from Susan Amorde’s Baggage series. (photo credit Kristine Schomaker)

 

A collaborative light installation by Light Riders and Creative Campus. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

A collaborative light installation by Light Riders and Creative Campus. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

 

Abstract Artist Steve Seleska shows work created in his Frogtown studio. (photo credit Kristine Schomaker)

Artist Steve Seleska shows work created in his Frogtown studio. (photo credit Kristine Schomaker)

 

As the evening wound down, Billy Kay & Friends entertained at the Elysian Valley Community Garden Stage. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

As the evening wound down, Billy Kay & Friends entertained at the Elysian Valley Community Garden Stage. (Photo credit Patrick Quinn)

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