LA Art Walk

Los Angeles’s spin on the Art Walk serves more than just the obvious purposes of promoting foot traffic and celebrating art in the flatland of mini malls and gas guzzlers. The monthly spectacle constitutes a larger urban project: the gentrification and “revitalization” of Downtown LA.

Since Antonio Villaraigosa’s first term in office, the LA mayor has worked with the City Council in redeveloping the desolate city center with a billion-dollar makeover. In recent decades Downtown has devolved from a bustling business hub to a destitute ghost town, where by day careerists flood the skyscraper landscape and by night rush to their suburban pockets leaving a nocturnal community of itinerants. The homeless population in Downtown LA alone exceeded 30,000 in 2004.

Today, the district lies in continual renovation and the lines blur between skid row and Gallery Row. Million-dollar lofts overlook boulevards dotted by sleeping bags and cardboard boxes. There is literally no street in the 5-square-mile area without an old warehouse or hotel from the Roaring Twenties converted into contemporary, luxury residence.

The ongoing project has city leaders calling for the relocation and dispersion of Downtown’s homeless to adjacent suburbs and an increased deployment of enforcement. Such measures have homeless activists and skid row residents angered.

In July, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty released its list of meanest cities. Los Angeles tops the list of 273 cities nationwide. The survey takes into account the number of anti-homeless laws, their enforcement, and the overall history of the city’s engagement with its homeless population.

The Downtown Art Walk occurs every second Thursday of the month.

Crossposted from The Eremite, Marcus Benigno’s new blog.

This entry was written by Marcus Benigno , posted on Sunday October 11 2009at 05:10 pm , filed under Art and Design, Society and Culture, United States and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Response to “LA Art Walk”

  • Sam Massie says:

    Seems like the same fight of “revitalization” vs. “keep it the way it was no matter how bad” is happening in downtowns across the US. Downtown gentrification is a sign of economic health, and cities are nothing if not constant reinvention. So is this conflict between homeless and gentrifiers inevitable, or are the homeless abused in ways that could be avoided?