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Hollywood's Barnsdall Art Park Up for Grabs. Can a Public-Private Partnership Succeed?

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The Hollyhock House at Barnsdall Art Park | Photo by William Opdyke via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
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Ed. Note: This article by Joy Hepp comes via Spot.Us, a nonprofit project from the Center for Media Change that focuses on community funded reporting.

It’s the first night of Aaron Donovan’s beginning still-life painting class at Barnsdall Art Center, an eclectic community art center on the southeast edge of Barnsdall Art Park in East Hollywood. Adult students arrive with canvases and brushes at the ready. One woman brings persimmons from her garden for the class to paint. Donovan is carefully placing the fruit on bright-colored plates as a middle-aged gentleman with a cell phone on his hip arrives. Donovan asks him if he’s a painter.

“I guess I’m a painter,” the man says.

“I always like to think there are two types of people in this world - the artists and the non-artists,” Donovan replies. “The non-artists just won’t admit that they are artists. So, everybody’s an artist.”

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At least that’s the goal at Barnsdall: to bring out the inner artist in any community member who wants to give art a try.

But that mission might be close to the end. Because of budgetary constraints, Los Angeles’ Department of Cultural Affairs temporarily shut down art classes at Barnsdall in March. Citizens and students fought to have classes reinstated, but now Barnsdall’s artists face the battle again.