Art Share L.A. Offers Hope and Support to L.A. Artists
Art Share LA, Arts District, Los Angeles
By Evan Senn
Every year, the greater metropolitan area of Los Angeles gains upwards of 40,000 people added to its residents. Last year, Los Angeles was the third most popular destination for those picking up and relocating. And why wouldn’t they? We’ve got art, entertainment, culture, history, fantastic food and fantastic weather to boot. But the important factor is that most of the people moving to Los Angeles want to be involved in its creative industries. But how are the creative industries supposed to evolve to meet the needs of roughly 40,000 new people every year—most of whom have talent and passion and want to share it? Well, thanks to nonprofit organizations like Art Share L.A., searching for that solution and greater good for talented creatives is in focus somewhere.
For over 20 years, Art Share L.A. has been aiding the artistic communities with selfless programming, artist support, innovative outreach, and exceptional public art projects. Today, Art Share L.A. engages over 300 artists and raises and pays tens of thousands of dollars to commission artwork by artists every year. Art Share is working hard to try and make lasting partnerships with cities, communities, businesses and artists to give more opportunities to artists in L.A., but also to help change the mindset for people, that art is value—helping to create financial opportunities for artists and curators, as well as inspiring and engaging the creative communities in Los Angeles.
In the 1990s, Art Share reshaped an old textile-recycling factory and turned it into an art center with a theater, an art gallery, art and ceramic studios, and 30 affordable live/work lofts for artists. With proud history, the brick walls, train tracks and freight doors of Art Share’s building remained intact, helping to invigorate the new role of the building with a strong history and place in this downtown L.A. area, now deemed the Arts District. For years, Art Share flourished as an after-school arts center for at-risk youth and a venue for creative events and people.
When the 2008 recession came to L.A., Art Share struggled to maintain its funding and keep the status quo, but with some retooling and re-branding help from the passionate Board of Directors, specifically Kevin Rodin, the current board president, and local artist and board member Rick Robinson, Art Share was re-imagined and found a new model and new way to stay a creative force in the downtown Arts District area. Cheyanne Sauter, Executive Director for Art Share L.A. and a key member in the Board of Directors as well as the ongoing success at Art Share L.A., was brought on to the Art Share team in 2012 to help discuss how to better the artistic community around Art Share and serve the building and business better. They closed down the first floor programming but continued to work on small and large art projects with artists and clients, and continued to offer long-term live/work lofts at affordable rates. Sauter said it was a dark time for Art Share, between 2008 and 2013, but they worked hard to keep the lights on. “We had thirty long-term lofts, and they were all occupied. So we really had a responsibility to them to keep the building alive, Sauter said. “What we’ve done [since then] is we have re-envisioned what Art Share can be to the community. We really took an audit of what was happening in the neighborhood. A lot of artists were losing housing. A lot of creatives were moving in to Los Angeles to access the creative capital. We wanted to be responsive to that.”
With over the top public art projects like Art “Above the Streets,” and the ongoing gallery and partner gallery exhibitions, live/work lofts, and the theater venue, Art Share keeps its core values at the heart of every decision they make—to nurture the wealth of local and international talent here in L.A., and help to provide emerging artists with guidance to find success and exposure.
“We started the gallery program, which is a submission curation show system,” Sauter explains. “We asked artists to send in their artwork. From those submissions, I think at first, we received seventy submissions. And I was like ‘Wow, this is so great!’ By our third and our fourth, we received upwards of five and six hundred submissions, each time we opened the portal…what that showed me was the need for artists was really great. The need for exhibition space, white wall space, etc, was a lot greater than what our walls could offer. And so we begot other programs that would support these artists. Now, we find outside exhibition space so that we can continue to create opportunity for artists to show their work.”
When they reopened in 2012, after the recession died down, they commissioned famed international street artist INSA to paint the entire building with his signature style and abstract artwork. This new chapter in L.A. art was seen as a revitalization across the board, and since the organization was developing and reconstructing its role in the arts community, Art Share L.A. wanted the community to see Art Share as a notable vibrant downtown landmark. INSA’s bright and colorful mural made the area come to life, and made the 14,000 square foot building of Art Share L.A. stand out.
2018 marks a new era for Art Share L.A., with a new face and amazing new projects in the works, it signifies a bright new moment in the history of this fantastic organization. To commemorate this moment in Art Share’s evolution, they decided to repaint the building’s exterior. This time, they chose abstract street artist Mikael B. to reimagine the Art Share L.A. building. Mikael B. is a contemporary Danish urban artist that has a signature style that straddles the line between organic and sci-fi, with meticulous details and immersive colors and scale. He moved to L.A. to pursue his art career only a few years ago, but his work is known all over the globe.
Sauter said that it was a difficult choice to pick one artist to help redefine the Art Share public image, but Mikael B. embodied the energy and feeling they wanted to express with their building. “We loved the fact that his work is a focal point. A moment of energy in his works and where his geometric shapes get really intense and the colors all kind of come together in one concentrated moment,” she said. “That reminds me of how artists develop concepts, they kind of sit there in their thoughts and try and figure out either the concentration of what they’re trying to do. And once that ah-ha moment comes it explodes out into this beautiful creation.”
And that’s what Mikael’s designs did for Sauter and for a lot of the board, “It was a kind of concentrated focal point that exploded all over the building in to this almost dreamlike state, with an ethereal kind of moment up in the corners,” Sauter said. “We love that it blends into the sky. We’re a part of Los Angeles, we only focus and support local artists so that was important to fit in the city, like we’ve done, and be part of the landscape.”
In this new phase of growth, Art Share L.A. will be expanding into the larger Los Angeles landscape, just like their new mural does. It will blend into the city and spread its purpose to the farthest points of the greater L.A. area, to continue supporting artists and the local artistic community. Sauter said that within the next three-to-five years, the Art Share brand will move into other spaces and areas in L.A. They hope to bring more affordable housing to artists and creatives, and the supportive and educational services for artists will come alongside that. Aiming to fulfill the growing needs that exist for local artists, Art Share L.A. wants to collaborate with the communities and local businesses to create support for artists in this area. “I’ve been in the non-profit world long enough to know that collaboration is the best way to actually affect a population,” Sauter said.
“I think anyone who comes to Los Angeles to access the creative economy is somebody that we want to support and help navigate the crazy fields.”
The importance for organizations like this is undervalued in the art market, but in the art community, and within the hearts of L.A. artists, new or old, Art Share L.A. offers a great opportunity of support, and hope for our creative future.
801 E. 4th Place
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Weds – Sun, 1-6pm
Closed Mon. & Tues.