February 13th Art Walk Lounge
ART WALK LOUNGE
634 S. Spring St.
February’s featured artist is Melissa Richardson Banks!
Known as @DowntownMuse, Melissa Richardson Banks is a street photographer who specializes in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA). Though having lived in DTLA since 1993, she did not begin documenting her urban neighborhood until 2004, mostly as an effort to store images for the future of what was the present soon to be the past. Her picture-taking slowly increased, and snowballed in 2012 once the gentrification process in the Arts District increased from a snail’s pace to lightning speed.
Her initial goal was to acquire snapshots of the everyday to help trigger memories later in life. When she began taking photos, she never expected to share them with anyone other than herself and family members who lived far away. As changes in the Arts District began escalating, she became obsessed with taking thousands of shots featuring ordinary things and daily views from her surroundings before they disappeared and slipped into oblivion.
Captured and shared daily through her Downtown Muse blog (www.downtownmuse.com) and social networks such as Tumblr and Instagram (she was the first to introduce the now-popular hashtag of #artsdistrict on the latter), her photographs reveal an insider’s glimpse into the Arts District, which was transformed in the 1980s by artists who created studios in former industrial warehouses and is now in the midst of yet another major renaissance, complete with new restaurants, bars, coffeehouses, retail stores, condo lofts, and more.
Often, her point of view is more like someone admiring a loved one than a tourist taking photos on vacation. A pile of colorfully painted bricks covered in graffiti from a demolished industrial building, luscious blossoms against stark concrete, blinding rooftop sunsets, bold skies crisscrossed by power lines, serpentine wire twirled around iron fences, and the promise of a new day as the sun rises over historic bridges are among the many images that evoke the sense of a place more pastoral or even more exotic than what you’d expect to find in the center of the nation’s second largest metropolitan area.
While her images are popular online, Melissa did not previously consider herself as a photographer until designer Christy Addis approached her with two draft book layouts using web images and urged her to publish a book and exhibit her photographs. Together, they collaborated on “MUSE-ings: Snapshots of the Arts District, Downtown Los Angeles,” which was released in January 2014. Designed by Christy Addis, the book is distributed nationally through Amazon.com and other retail outlets. Locally, signed copies are available for sale in the Arts District at The Pie Hole at 704 Traction Ave., Los Angeles 90013 and online through her website at www.downtownmuse.com/book. The hard-cover publication retails for $25 plus tax and shipping (96 pages, 923 full-color images plus an essay and bios, 8.5” square in size).
Since meeting Addis, she has also shown her work at the Duncan Miller Gallery in Bergamot Station, the Melrose Lightspace, the Boathouse Gallery at Plaza de la Raza, and in the Warehouse Gallery at Art Share LA. In February 2014, she is the featured artist for the Downtown Art Walk.
The Downtown Art Walk Lounge is proudly sponsored by Société Perrier, the global enthusiast’s source for engaging content and great events and curating the best in nightlife, art, music, fashion, travel, mixology and cocktail culture. When you see the Société Perrier seal, you know you are in the right place.
Need Condoms? The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Division of HIV and STD Programs has free condoms in the Downtown Art Walk Lounge to share with local businesses and residents.
Coloring Revolution The revolution of coloring is back on popular demand! Come by the Lounge and get your coloring on with artist Ricardo Aguilar!