by Shawn L Fitzpatrick
L.A.’s Arts District – As You’ve Never Seen It Before
In the past few years, downtown Los Angeles (commonly shortened to simply “DTLA” by locals) has been the heartbeat of everything exciting in this vast west coast metropolis. But now, the neighborhood has grown to the point where specific blocks have developed their own identities and are destinations in themselves. Take, for instance, the Arts District – roughly 10 blocks full of former industrial buildings in DTLA’s southeastern corner, where you’ll find a brilliant, high-low blend of bougie and gritty establishments cropping up seemingly every week.
Within the Arts District, the triangle between Traction Avenue, Sante Fe Avenue and (most bustling of all) 3rd Street – helmed by the new Hauser Wirth + Schimmel Gallery; emerges as the most electrifying stretch right now.
Here’s just a sampling of what to see:
Wandering through an art gallery before grabbing lunch at a restaurant is a standard weekend activity, but the new, 100,000 square foot Hauser Wirth + Schimmel is reinventing the concept with Manuela, its own bustling eatery that spills out into the sculpture garden of the gallery, which is gracefully built into the bones of the restored Globe Mill Complex, an enormous former flour mill. The menu draws from chef Wes Whitsell’s formative years in North Texas as well as relationships with local farms in California and, according to Whitsell, “is about everything I have come to learn about food and my journey: simple, rustic, locally sourced and sustainable.” This translates into dishes like hush puppies with molasses butter and a “redneck country ham” platter with pickles, pimento, deviled eggs and biscuits. Fermenting, preserving and pickling abound here, as do chickens, who roost happily in the garden on the premises. Whitsell’s prior experience in the Arts District was limited to his reverence for restaurants like Ori Menashe’s Bestia, which, when it opened, was considered far off the beaten path. “I thought it was like a ghost town,” he remembers. “But the neighborhood is on the verge of really blowing up, and we’re coming in at the perfect time. I couldn’t ask for a better place to be.”
Arts District Brewing Co.
Opened in December of 2015, this huge, 15,000 square foot Arts District temple to craft beer has its own 15-barrel brewhouse that can produce over 3,000 barrels of beer per year. It’s a welcome addition to a town that’s not known for outstanding beer, and earned itself further accolades with the appointment of Devon Randall, a Great American Beer Festival winner and mainstay of San Diego’s already established craft beer scene. The beer hall-style space is a local hangout for more than just the stouts, golden ales and IPA’s on tap, though. There’s an entertainment center, where guests can partake in bar games like ping pong, darts and skeeball (played on 10 restored skeeball machines); and sharing the building is its sister restaurant, skeeball (played on 10 restored skeeball machines); and sharing the building is its sister restaurant, Fritzi, which serves elevated pub food (fish and chips battered in Arts District Brewing Co.’s Mateo beer; a chicken confit sandwich with frisee, muenster and black garlic aioli) from chef Neal Fraser in a high-ceilinged, industrial-inspired space.
“I don’t think DTLA is the most exciting neighborhood in Los Angeles—I think it’s the most exciting neighborhood in the country, and possibly the world,” exclaims Carl Louisville, owner and Creative Director of Guerilla Atelier. Louisville makes that assertion with 13 years of DTLA living under his belt. The loft-like East 3rd Street space that’s now home to his shop first caught his eye when he was still director of the Prada Epicenter in Beverly Hills. “You could feel that things were about to happen here,” he recalls. Like Hauser Wirth + Schimmel across the street, the 7,000 square foot industrial space features cement floors and industrial pipes as the backdrop for works of art and design, from artist Knowledge Bennett’s prints to CFDA Fashion Fund Designer Chris Galinas’ collection, to candles from the Hotel du Costes. While Guerilla’s business has grown steadily, the arrival of Hauser Wirth + Schimmel across the street triggered profits that increased twofold month-over-month. “I attribute that to a whole new wave of international customers coming downtown to see the gallery and the neighborhood,” Louisville notes. “Now, if you come to L.A. and you didn’t see downtown, you didn’t really see L.A.“
Hennessey + Ingalls
In 2015, Brett Hennessey set out to find a new space for his family’s visual arts bookstore, Hennessey & Ingalls (the largest art, architecture and design bookstore in the western U.S.), after its Santa Monica location closed thanks to skyrocketing west side rents. “We saw the energy in the Arts District and the future of what the neighborhood was going to be, and we wanted in on that.” In February, the new Hennessey & Ingalls opened in a 5,000 square foot space in the One Santa Fe building, designed by architect Michael Maltzen. While they still have their loyal west side customers who make the 40-minute drive downtown, the store now also has clientele from nearby Pasadena, Boyle Heights and Glendale—and an entirely fresh crop of young creatives. “Not to bad mouth the west side, but things had started to get a little stagnant. There’s not as much going on,” Hennessey explains. “Our customer there was more established, they’d already created their world. Here, they’re younger, more fresh and more curious. And that was a big part of the allure.”
Hammer and Spear
Originally launched in 2013 by interior designers Kristan Cunningham (host of HGTV’s “Design on a Dime”) and Scott Jarrell, the showroom recently underwent an expansion, reopening last year with a design studio and retail space, adding over 4,000 additional square feet to their existing space in a historic brick building. The success of Hammer and Spear is a testament to the Arts District’s recent growth, acting as a source for new, incoming residents who are seeking to decorate their loft apartments with one-of-a-kind pieces. And with the extra room, Hammer and Spear have added inventory from local L.A. designers like ceramicist Jonn Coolidge and furniture designer Sabin Ousey, as well as an array of high-end home goods ranging from candles by Mad et Len to tumblers and carafes from Teroforma.
“Do not go where the path leads, travel instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” @wbbrjp