by Bill Lasarow

The vast artist colony of downtown Los Angeles takes a new turn in its symbiotic relationship with the downtown business community this year with the relocation of the annual DADA exhibition, Downtown Lives!, into the midst of the business district. The former University Club building, located close by Pershing Square at 630 W. Sixth Street, will host over 300 artists from October 3-26. What was formerly a weekend-only event will also expand to a Wednesday-Sunday schedule (hours will vary, call DADA to receive a complete schedule). Also distinguishing this year's event is that the numerous rooms in the University Club building permits each artist space to not merely contribute a work of art to an enormous group show; each is permitted to present their own exhibition if that's what they want to do.

With so many artists, as you might surmise, DADA maintains an open selection process, so expect plenty of unwieldiness and uneven quality. But the point is to demonstrate the wide range of what is being created every day in downtown L.A., as well as to convince us that the presence of so much art activity has a beneficial effect on a grateful downtown business community.


The emergence of a loft district in the downtown area goes back twenty years now, and, questions of aesthetic vitality aside, Downtown Lives! serves as a reminder that the district is extensive and firmly rooted.

The plethora of visual art is bracketed by a buffet of special events that may appeal to you whether you are looking for partying, fashions, or children's activities. The October 3rd Grand Opening Party includes refreshments, music and performance on three stages (Admission is $5). The following Saturday, October 11th features an all-night--that's ALL NIGHT, 11pm-7am--dance/fundraiser (Admission $15). Then there is the annual fashion show of wearable art on October 19th (Admission $5). Admission on all other days is $3.

Oh, there's more goings on to be sure. Family art workshops will be held on three consecutive Saturday afternoons, October 4th, 11th and 18th. A panel discussion about a Tiajuana/L.A. artist collaboration, Bajo el Mismo Sol (Under the Same Sun) takes place on October 4th, LACE presents an interdisciplinary dance event ("Twisted Spring") October 18. Indeed, it promises to be a very busy month. This is not the same downtown that many Angelenos have thought they knew for decades. In fact, downtown hasn't been the same for a long time now.

For an event brochure, call or write DADA: (213) 625-DADA/625-3232; 1250 Long Beach Ave., Suite 104, Los Angeles, CA 90021.

Joyce Tenneson, "Jodie Foster," photograph included in "The Tenneson Woman in Hollywood," a special exhibition featured as part of this
year's Artexpo Los Angeles



Artexpo, as always bringing out a huge array of publishers, dealers and artists you won't normally see featured in local fine art galleries, returns for the second year of its new era at the Convention Center in downtown L.A. The approach to art associated with Artexpo is to appeal to a broader audience than is normally associated with the fine art world by attracting a more commercial or design-oriented exhibitor than is associated with other fairs, while also providing exposure for more cutting edge art that might be associated with West Hollywood or Santa Monica galleries and museums via special exhibitions presented non-commercially under the same roof.

The virtue in this is that the audience that is drawn to the pretty Erté-derived dancing figures or tender renditions of children praying may gain some notion of a more uncompromising creative element. Meanwhile, those who have little patience for the side of art that is more concerned to appeal than reveal may find relief in two curated exhibitions. Hollywood and Halloween will focus its attention on film studio material relating to set and graphic design, special effects, animation and make-up. The Tenneson Woman in Hollywood features photographs of a cross-section of the Hollywood film industry's leading women by Joyce Tenneson. The Artists Pavilion will be comprised of a juried selection of emerging artists, while a series of "special interest" pavilions call attention to several distinct media and styles of art.

The problem that weakens these efforts at balance and inclusiveness is that the effect of encountering the fine art may be diluted, while the dominant presence of the more commercial variety may be exposed for a lack of depth. The intent of Artexpo, of course, is not to critically examine this duality, but to help promote the exhibitors who rent the booths. The curated portions, along with the courtesy booths extended to local museums as well as the roster of guest speakers, strive to lend aesthetic weight to a floor that, on the whole, cannot deliver what is promised by association.

Artexpo Los Angeles is open to the public Saturday, October 25th, 10am-7pm; Sunday, October 26th, 11am-7pm; and Monday, October 27th, 10am-2pm. Admission is $8 (children under 12 are free). There is a preview for trade professionals only on Friday, October 24th, 10am-7pm. Location of Artexpo is at the Convention Center's Yorty Hall, is 1201 S. Figueroa St. For additional information call Artexpo at 1 (800) 331-5706.