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Arts and Entertainment

Explore The Arts District, Old Graveyards, And The Lummis House On Obscura Day

Street art in the Arts District. (Photo by Ric Berryman via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Los Angeles is a treasure trove of weirdness, considering the city's history as a dream factory and escaping ground. It's also, because of its sprawl and confusing geography, a place where the best treasure troves are often hidden. It's a city that reveals itself to you only if you put in the effort to look. Atlas Obscura, the website for geographically curious people around the world, has made a concerted effort to bring those hidden treasures out into the open. In a celebration of the world's most fascinating gems, they're hosting Obscura Day in cities around the world. The Los Angeles version covers every corner of the city, with events ranging from a tour of graveyards to a tour of Historic Filipinotown. Check out all the day's events below:


Take a tour of a fascinating home in Echo Park filled with rainbows, reflections, miniatures, and a whole host of surreal installations. The home's owners and designers, Chris Hughes and Alexa Mead, will be guiding two tours Sunday afternoon. In an effort to keep the location private, the address will only be distributed to guests after purchasing tickets.

Tickets here. The Fun House is located in Echo Park.

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MotoArt is a company based out of Torrance that turns non-operational plane materials into furniture and art. The company's manufacturing and assembly take place in El Segundo and the Obscura Day event gives guests the opportunity to tour the showroom and the manufacturing facility. Attendees also get to leave the tour with a "unique, laser-etched plane tag," whatever that means! Probably something cool.

Tickets here. MotoArt is located at 119 Standard St. in El Segundo.

Historic Filipinotown is a beautiful old neighborhood south of the 101 freeway and Echo Park, but a lot of people in L.A. don't even know it exists. This tour aims to change all that. It'll include a community media archive, a trip to the oldest Filipino market in the area, and learn about the history of the neighborhood. It's a 2 mile walking tour, and temperatures are expected to be in the low 80s Sunday afternoon.

Tickets here. Tribal Cafe is located at 1651 W Temple St.

The Los Angeles Zoo may be known for its otters, but it's not the only zoo this city has seen in its lifetime. Tucked in Griffith Park (not far from the currently operating zoo) lie the ruins of a zoo from the first half of the 20th century. The old zoo had a tumultuous run, housing a murderous polar bear at a certain point, and the Obscura Day tour will provide both the chance to explore the ruins and learn about its troubled history.

Tickets here. The abandoned zoo is located on Griffith Park Drive in Griffith Park.

Charles Lummis is one of L.A.'s pre-eminent forefathers. After walking from Ohio to Los Angeles to take a job with the L.A. Times, he established himself as a local journalist and worked to understand the history of L.A. He fostered a legacy of activism, heritage, and having a crazy house to host lavish parties for artists and writers. That house, also known as El Alisal, is a stone mansion in the Highland Park area. Obscura Day is hosting a tour of the house with local historian Christian Rodriguez.

Tickets here. The Lummis House is located at 200 E Ave 43.

L.A. has no shortage of homages to the Virgin Mary, but the Phantasma Gloria light sculpture in Echo Park might be the one to rule them all. The glass and bottle sculpture is a massive and colorful sculpture of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and in the late afternoon it creates a beautiful light show when the golden hour sun refracts through the colored glass. The Obscura Day event involves a discussion with the artist, Randlett "Randy" Lawrence, and prime-time light viewing.

Tickets here. Phantasma Gloria is located in Echo Park.

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Want a tour of HiFi without doing as much walking? Take the jeepney tour instead. This tour of HiFi is organized by Hidden HiFi, a cultural development group run by the non-profit Philipino Workers Union. The tour happens in the back of jeepneys, a.k.a. army jeeps left in the Philippines after WWII that locals transformed into colorful and kitschy public transportation buggies. It'll focus on the history of the area and how it became the only enclave outside of the Philippines specifically dedicated to Filipinos.

Tickets here. The Philipino Workers Center is located at 153 Glendale Blvd.

The Bob Baker Marionette Theater is a haven for the world of surreal charm and enjoyment. It's one of the longest-running puppet theaters in the country. The Obscura Day event includes seeing the show Hooray LA, which follows this history of Los Angeles, as well as a tour backstage. The theater is tucked in a corner near the Vista Hermosa Natural Park and the 101, so the hidden gem element feels especially real when navigating the weird turns and hills of the no man's land between Echo Park, Westlake, and downtown.

Tickets here. The Bob Baker Marionette Theater is located at 1345 West 1st Street.

MorYork Gallery in Highland Park is the home of artist Clare Graham's magical world of repurposing found and recycled objects. Graham began making these sculptures after retiring as a Disney art director, and her work is fascinating on both the individual and collective scale. Her gallery isn't normally very accessible to the public, so the Obscura Day event gives people the opportunity to see Graham at work and linger over her incredible world of real life fantasy.

Tickets here. The MorYork Gallery is located at 4959 York Blvd.

Like it or not, the Arts District has transformed into a highly curated and expensive neighborhood. The Graffiti Feast event captures the area's contemporary identity by offering the chance to tour the neighborhood's extensive street art alongside photographer Steve Grody, followed by a street art workshop and a dinner courtesy of the Daily Dose's Sarkis Vartanian. You'll even get the chance to learn some tagging skills directly from the artists.

Tickets here. The meeting point is located at 1936 E. 7th Street.

Harry Blitzstein is a local outsider artist whose studio on Fairfax is the longest-running single artist gallery in the city. He works in satirical and whimsical folk art formats and tries to make his art accessible to people with a range of price points. The tour of the gallery will involve discussion with the artist himself as well as opportunities to make personal Blitzstein buttons.

Tickets here. The Blitzstein Museum of Art is located at 428 North Fairfax Ave.

L.A.'s early history as an undeveloped city means disposing of the dead was a daunting task in its early years. Some of the earliest graveyards are in downtown L.A., and this tour will track the sites and uncover the history behind how these graveyards lost their purpose in the city. L.A. has always made an effort to look perpetually towards the future, so what happens when the bodies of the past still remain?

Tickets here. The tour will take place downtown.

While Los Feliz nowadays screams minimalist Glossier girls and rich young families with lots of dogs, it has a history of profound kitsch and weirdness. The Obscura Day tour of the area will focus on the spots that remain from Los Feliz's early days and the ones reviving the desire for an alternative lifestyle. From Tiki-Ti to the Dresden to Soap Plant/Wacko to Sweeney Todd's Barber Shop, Los Feliz has an affinity for the eccentric.

Tickets here. The meeting point is The Dresden, located at 1760 N. Vermont Ave.

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