No, not Mussorgsky’s work. The Los Angeles Center for Digital Art’s (LACDA), a yearly un-juried exhibit called Snap To Grid. The picture I submitted above was posted with many others in one room of the gallery. I visited it the day after the opening. It was interesting to see the variety of work submitted, everything was posted in alphabetical order (by artist’s last name) and the total exhibit ran around all four walls of the room. I originally shared “Stroller Party At Union” on Flickr, and picked it for submission to this exhibit because it was a crazy deviation from a “street style” photograph I took in Union Station, while watching travelers pass by and waiting for my afternoon coffee in the local coffee shop.
The gallery is in a part of downtown that is experiencing a slow but steady revival. Like all of downtown, it’s a strange combination of people with homes and jobs, and homeless people. A very HUGE population of homeless people, who have a history of residing there that is rather unique to L.A. There has been much written about the homeless downtown, who live in an area that is known as “Skid Row” (an old term and generic designation for the poorest and most troubled of a big city population) – here’s one article about Skid Row and its inhabitants written in the spring of this year.
However, as a former New Yorker who is familiar with the homeless as a part of big city living, the existence of a population of homeless people this large shocks even me. Everywhere you go in downtown LA, you are bound to find someone who literally lives on the street. The community that has sprung up where LACDA is located though, is very close to the heart of Skid Row. It reminds me of the East Village back in the ’70s. The 1970s, when New York City was a very rough place. It’s not a comfortable comparison. Walking from the Pershing Square subway station to the location of the gallery a few blocks away, I found myself back in New York mode, walking quickly, looking straight ahead but at the same time seeing everything around me, aware and on guard.
Yes, not a comfortable comparison at all. Perhaps not comfortable because I have young children to raise now and feel protective of them – the first two neighborhoods we lived in with them had gang activity nearby, a half-way house, a homeless woman I often saw in the neighborhood who once hurried down the opposite side of the street unclothed from the waist down, and oh then the unforgettable dismembered and butchered remains of person which were found in a dumpster behind a convenience store about two blocks away. Or perhaps not comfortable too, because I’m older now and tired of dealing with the “on the edge” living in not so great neighborhoods, which is part of the experience of your first apartment living in New York after you graduate from college, oh baby so tough – the notion that the cocaine dealers in the neighborhood won’t let you get mugged because they don’t want police coming in and nosing around in their business activities.
So yeah. No longer a pioneer. Except when I’m creating. That’s always an on the edge environment that I’m more than happy to get into trouble in.