DTLA ART WALK
Spring Arts Collective: Profile
Spring Arts Tower building, at the heart of Gallery Row in Downtown Los Angeles’ Historic Core, has seen constant change since it was built in 1915. A countless number of tenants have come and gone, and yet a remarkable group of five artists – the Spring Arts Collective – have built a steadfast presence with their gallery/studio spaces on the building’s mezzanine floor since the group’s inception almost seven years ago.
“I think we’ve survived so long because we all have mutual respect for one another and each other’s art,” says Jena Priebe of Fold Gallery. “We definitely take the time to communicate and share in our collective ideas and victories. It’s not always easy, we all have strong personalities and it is a challenge sometimes, but it’s totally worth the strong community feel that we’ve established. We all have the same goal to support each other’s artwork and that of others.” She adds, “We put on some amazing shows and I’m proud that we’ve been an anchor in the Downtown Los Angles art scene for so long.”
The five were originally studio artists on different floors of the Spring Arts Tower who exhibited in the mezzanine during the monthly Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk. When The Last Bookstore moved into the building in 2011, the mezzanine exhibition space was halved. The building owner, an art patron, sought out tenant artists of the Spring Arts Tower who had been most active in the Art Walk, and invited them to move into the new retail spaces he built specifically for them in the available mezzanine area.
In addition to their own gallery/studio spaces, the collective runs the Spring Arts Gallery, located nearby on the mezzanine floor. They host new shows and receptions throughout the year with works ranging from emerging to established artists.
“Since we run the Spring Arts Gallery, we each participate in the [Downtown Los Angeles] Art Walk gallery owners’ meetings, which provide a dialogue to discuss the direction of Art Walk,” explains David Lovejoy of Lovejoy Art, also known as “Lovejoy’s Contraption Emporium”. “We have recently been hosting the Art Walk table in the gallery during Art Walks [on the second Thursday of every month.]” He adds, “Personally, I have exhibited in over 100 Art Walks. It is what brought me to the Spring Arts Tower as my studio home 10-plus years ago.”
“I have been super fortunate to work with the Downtown Art Walk in several ways,” says Liz Huston of Liz Huston’s Studio Shoppe. “I gave Tarot readings at one of their fundraiser events recently; my art was featured in their lounge [formerly in the MALDEF building]; and I’ve had my art on the cover of their map twice now! I’ve been exhibiting in various gallery shows at the Art Walk for over 10 years, even before my Studio Shoppe opened and I became a member of the Spring Arts Collective.”
The five artists’ work is as varied as their personalities, which makes for a lively and unique visit to their spaces. “I consider myself a stitch artist,” explains Robin McGeough of Dove Biscuit Studio. “My medium is textiles; fabrics of many kinds; machine and hand sewing. My mother was a master seamstress, and when she lost her life to cancer years ago, I began sewing again with her machines.”
“Create or Die” is the theme of Robin’s annual group show that he feels best portrays his mission, vision and values. (This year, the show will be held on March 23.) His work has been inspired by his life experiences, which includes battling drug addiction and homelessness. He writes, “[At that time,] art was the only area of life that gave me a sense of competence.” Now 21 years clean, he is a director at a local treatment center for psychiatric and chemical dependence problems. He adds, “This allows me to create without the pressure of creating for sale.”
Andrea Bogdan of Andrea Bogdan Studio is a freestyle painter. Most of her artworks are improvised with no preconceived ideas of their shape or appearance. “Because my studio is open while I paint, the works are influenced by the moods and conversations of my visitors, plus whatever is happening on the street outside,” says Andrea. “I love words, so the finishing touch on every painting is its name, which is my version of poetry. I paint on a variety of surfaces, including handbags, shoes and even little cards which makes it possible for almost anybody to start their original art collection.”
David Lovejoy’s works are primarily composed using repurposed bits and pieces that he assembles into boxes and site-specific installations. “I work mostly with wood, often ‘hidden wood’ – the backs of frames and insides of cabinets. Wood not intended to be seen, so it has markings and fingerprints from the original craftsmen,” he explains.
“My artwork is a mix of vintage ephemera and found objects and steel,” says Jena Priebe. “I focus mainly on large installations. I make interactive and still action sculptures. I love to engineer things and make fairy tales come alive in a space. You can see some of those throughout The Spring Arts Tower and Last Bookstore.”
Liz Huston’s work is mixed media, a combination of photography, paint, and Photoshop. “I try to work on something every day, even if I can only devote 20 minutes to it,” she says. “The best days are when I can spend eight to twelve hours diving into one piece of art. This is necessary because of the nature of my work going back and forth between the digital and the tactile. My pieces take three to nine months to finish.”
Aside from continuing to make art, Liz says she wants to keep learning. “There are so many new-to-me techniques I want to learn,” she says. “I just want to keep growing. Take risks. Stretch that comfort zone.”
The collective’s solidarity is due in large part to the building owner’s support and commitment to artists. With rising rents in the area, many artists have been forced to relocate to less expensive neighborhoods. “I think this is the incredibly unfortunate life of a studio artist in any city,” says David Lovejoy. “Artists move into nearly abandoned buildings in forgotten parts of town because they’re cheap and you can make a mess. Artists can make nearly abandoned neighborhoods interesting. Gentrification is a force as strong as gravity, which can disrupt places like our Arts District, which has largely outpriced its artists. This is one reason I’m so happily ensconced in the Spring Arts Tower, an established arts building, and one I feel can ride out that wave.”
“Our landlord is an appreciator of the arts and his building is home to many creative entrepreneurs and small businesses,” explains Andrea Bogdan. “Personally, I think Downtown Los Angeles benefits tremendously from this type of commitment, and it’s something I’m extremely grateful for.”
Originally posted on downtownartwalk.org