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LAist Interview: Jonny Coleman on Art Crawl X

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LAist had the opportunity to catch up with Jonny Coleman, curator of Art Crawl X and also founder of Found Gallery in Silverlake this week to ask him some questions about the art walk this weekend, what not to miss, and why this art walk is sure to kick ass.

What is Art Crawl X?

Art Crawl X is the tenth annual art walk on the Eastside [excluding downtown]. The Crawl includes both conventional gallery spaces and all shapes and sizes of other businesses that have successfully integrated visual art exhibits into their formats. This year, the Crawl also includes a generous amount of special events that incorporate all types of artistic media.

How did you become involved?

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Billy Shire, who runs La Luz de Jesus and another gallery of his own name in Culver City, was ready to pass on leadership of Crawl, has accomplished a great deal in making alternative spaces function as art galleries and has helped make certain genres of painting acceptable. The folks at La Luz basically put a call out to some of the participants for last year. I felt like after having lived in the neighborhood for some 4 years and having run my space at Found Gallery for a year that I could really help emphasize the area's strengths in a different way.

What makes it different from other art walks around town?

To be perfectly frank, I think that the neighborhoods [Silver Lake, Atwater Village, Echo Park, & Los Feliz] are the most consistently enjoyable, diverse, and stimulating places in LA proper. They never feel like a destination for just art, music, or nightlife; they rarely feel like ghost towns like some other parts do if you visit them on the wrong day or wrong time. This is all very subjective, but I think that the areas are conducive to diverse art spaces and welcoming to the type of events we're putting together. There is clearly a historical bohemian attitude in the air [despite any gentrification] that allows us to take chances. Also, Bike Oven has generously donated some bikes for people to borrow for free at Materials & Applications. It's not a super concentrated district, which is as LA as it gets; there are so many different routes/means of transportations/ways to experience the weekend.

With over 30 exhibits going on, what can we absolutely not miss? What are the highlights?

There are actually 32 exhibits going on. You have to check out the 'humor us' show at LA Municipal Gallery. I think it's 20 Asian-American female artists with LA ties. I've only seen jpegs of the pieces, but they're wild. LAMG has always been criminally underrated.

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Tom Neely's show at Black Maria; Junc's 3 artist show; the installation at Materials & Applications is pretty awe-inspiring. The shows going up at Thinkspace, Secret Headquarters, & GhettoGloss are also some of my personal favorites. I haven't seen all of the shows in person yet, but I recommend checking out the exhibit page to get a sense for what type of art excites you. Oh, and my personal favorite show at Found is up right now. My teacher from high school, Keith Perelli, is showing an amazing, harrowing set of paintings that resound with humanity instead of a detached or self-aware perspective.

There are also a lot of activities and night shows. Which of those do you recommend?

Josh Bearman, Trinie Dalton, & Sal Plascencia are holding a reading at LittleBird on Sunday. Ben Templesmith [30 Days of Night] & David Slade will be at the opening at Secret Headquarters. Creative Commons is leading a salon on Fair Use in fine arts and media in general. The closing party at Living Room on Sunday evening.

You opened your gallery, Found, pretty much right out of college - what is the purpose of Found?

Our principal interest is to give 'emerging' artists a chance to show for the first time in a legitimate environment and also to host exhibits by visiting artists that have never shown in the region. The final component of Found's programming is our collaborative group efforts and our special events that don't fit within the typical constraints of opening/closing receptions. We like to give assignments and force artists to work in ways they normally wouldn't or with people they wouldn't naturally collaborate with. Basically, we strive to show you things you haven't seen yet.

Getting into the art world and knowing how to buy art can be intimidating, what do you suggest for people who want to start buying original art?

Buy what you like. Don't treat art as a literal asset. Stay ignorant of what other people buy. If you're purchasing art as a financial investment, instead of some sort of genuine need to own 'that object,' then you're just an entrepreneur. Visit galleries that show 'emerging artists' or attend one of the many great MFA exhibits in the Southland; you're very unlikely to pay for inflated price points. More than that, you're also really encouraging these younger artists to continue developing; you can claim extra gratification in knowing that you are directly supporting people you admire.

How do you think art galleries on the East Side differ from galleries in say Culver City or Downtown?

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Downtown is great because they have a wealth of legitimate galleries with strong perspectives and also a thriving underground, experimental scene. My only trepidation with downtown [in addition to safety issues] is that it has always seemed extremely volatile. A lot of artists [including myself] have gotten evicted from their work or work/live spaces, and the area's future constantly seems very uncertain.

For Culver City, again, you've got a thriving dichotomy of international, high brow spaces and [what used to be more dangerous] street-graf-low brow galleries. I know a lot of businesses have cropped up around the red-hot scene there, but I find it rather exclusionary at times.

As long as we're generalizing, I'd say the Eastside offers varieties of all the above-mentioned types of spaces. The spectrum is wider, and I think the locals are more willing to go there. It's not one or two types of spaces/mentalities, which I think some people have a difficult time wrapping their heads around. The only real obstacle on the Eastside that I find is that it's often too Bohemian for its own good. Galleries everywhere become cliquey with their clients and fan base, and once they establish a set of regulars, they get lazy about trying to grow.

Where would you like to see the East Side art scene 5, 10, 20 years from now?

Compared to some of the areas I've already mentioned, the Eastside has maintained a consistent attitude towards artistic expression for decades and will always be a haven to show and live for techies, weirdos, groundbreakers, tastemakers, media makers, artists, all that. We're trying to extend the Art Crawl to help better organize the area and create some exciting Open Studio events in addition to some surprises in the next year and beyond. We'll see.

Details: Check here or:
Art Crawl X, Friday through Sunday: Traipse through the galleries and coffeeshops of LF/SL/EP on this tenth annual Eastside art love fest. It all starts with an opening night dance party Thursday at Echoplex featuring local faves The Hectors, Vosotros, DJ's and more. Free. MAP.