Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

Arts and Entertainment

Art Gallery Presents Month-Long Love/Hate Letter To Los Angeles

Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

Think Tank Gallery, no stranger to immersive art shows, will be presenting a month-long throwback to 90s Los Angeles starting Saturday, August 19, and running through Saturday, September 23. The skate-and-street art gallery had to vacate their Fashion District gallery after a crackdown on DIY spaces following the Ghost Ship tragedy in Oakland (which also brought the end of venerable DIY venue Non Plus Ultra), but through a partnership with Vans and Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, the gallery has descended back into its former space to venerate the same city that kicked them out: Los Angeles. The show, titled Drinkin', Smokin', and West Coastin': A Group Love Letter To Los Angeles, is a month of art exhibits, installations, comedy, music, cabaret, weed, and more. Besides the art for sale in the main gallery space, the group is hosting a different event almost every night.

L.A. galleries usually fall into one of two camps: skate-and-street art or expensive and minimal (easiest tell: whether the gallery name is in a sans serif font or a variation on graffiti). Think Tank is very much a part of the former group, and their latest exhibit exalts the world of hip-hop, street art, camp, kitsch, weed, and L.A. in the '90s. It would be easy for the exhibit to reek of detached irony or disinterest, but Drinkin', Smokin', and West Coastin' is anything but. The earnest care and obsession around L.A.'s culture and legacy is in full force down on Maple Avenue and 9th Street.

Every inch of the space is devoted to local artists or out-of-towners who love Los Angeles. Represented among the work are skate illustrator Jamie Browne, pixel artists eBoy, and photographer Sinziana Velicescu. The exhibit also features photography from a young artist named Osei Key. Key was determined to present in the show, and his work—despite being far less well-known than some of his gallery-mates—is some of the most affecting in the whole space.

One of the installations comes from Korean-American artist Ray Young Chu. The surreal street artist has built a full-scale version of a Korean liquor store from 1992, but replete with satire and extra-terrestrial influence (he has appropriately dubbed the piece "Ray-Mart").

Support for LAist comes from

The gallery isn't just for art, though; two separate rooms have been converted into full-scale bars and lounges. A 4/20 Lounge features high art bongs and cannabis content and products, and a Lagunitas Beer x El Silencio Mezcal Bar has been constructed to resemble a DMV, all the way down to a photo booth and cheesy wood paneling along the walls. Let's just hope it doesn't take two hours to get a cocktail (all of which will represent some iconic part of L.A., be it the "Silver Lake Shaman" or the "O.J.").

The events over the course of the month run the gamut from special iterations of local comedy show "Brew Ha Ha" to a weed brunch with Roscoe's to a massive murder mystery dinner introducing guests to the history of L.A.'s murders and serial killers. Some events are free with RSVP and others are ticketed; the full calendar is on the website.


(Poster courtesy of Think Tank Gallery)
Here's a peek into how the show came together:

Think Tank Gallery is located in the Fashion District downtown at 929 Maple Avenue, 2nd Floor.