LA’s Innaugural K-Town Art Walk and Muralist Yoshi Takahashi
On October 25th, Koreatown launched a new monthly art walk in the Wilshire Corridor. Self-described, the Wilshire Center Art & Architecture Walk “is a monthly celebration of sustainable urban living showcasing historic architecture, galleries, artists, photography, restaurants, bars, shops, and businesses located in Wilshire Center.”
Laura & Manfred Menz | Gucci has my Blessing, Courtesy of Andrewshire Gallery.
While the inaugural walk did not show signs of large masses walking from place to place, the way one might see at LA’s Downtown Art Walk or Culver City Art Walk, the art at the participating Ann Bridges Art Studio, Andrewshire Gallery, and the popular Beer Belly restaurant was young, fresh, and uniquely LA. - Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor
Ann Bridges | Echo Park Palms, oil on canvas, 12" x 18 " 2009, Courtesy of AnnBridges.com.
Ann Bridges, utility box, Courtesy of Ann Bridges’ Daily Painting.
Ann Bridges paints California landscapes that are fairly traditional in many ways, but her “urban landscapes” pull at my heartstrings, as they portray LA cityscapes in that exact and specific light that only California and the Mediterranean is known for. She also teamed up with the Wilshire Center Business Improvement District to paint a city utility box, which was included on the art walk.
Marion Lane | Untitled, 2011, acrylic on panel, 20 x 20.” Courtesy of Andrewshire Gallery.
The current group show at Andrewshire Gallery is called “The Five Spot” and is curated by Shana Nys Dambrot, featuring art by Marion Lane, Bettina Hubby, Vincent Sabella, Laura & Manfred Menz.
Marion Lane | Untitled, 2012, acrylic on panel, 13 x 13.” Courtesy of Andrewshire Gallery.
Vincent Sabella | Disassociation, Spray paint & acrylic on canvas, 3 x 3ft. Courtesy of Andrewshire Gallery.
Because of my interest in posters, advertisements, and ephemera, I immediately loved Laura and Manfred Menz’ “Gucci has my Blessing.” The abstract and graphic qualities of works by both Vincent Sabella and Marion Lane were also really visually appealing to me. And interestingly enough, their colors and designs are a perfect predecessor to seeing Beer Belly’s murals by artist Yoshi Takahashi, also known as MR44.
I caught up with Takahashi to ask about the evolution of his murals at the restaurant in addition to his other artistic projects….
Ellen Caldwell: Could you tell me a little bit about how you got partnered with Beer Belly to do both of the restaurant’s wall murals? How they have evolved since its opening?
YT: In 2011, Jimmy, the owner of Beer Belly, approached me to rock a mural for his bar/restaurant. I’ve known Jimmy from the early 2000’s when I was working with Foreign Family in K-town, so he was pretty familiar with my work. He gave me creative freedom to do whatever I wanted, so at first I decided to do a black and white piece with my signature organic style, around the whole building. In October of this year, since K-town was going to host their first Art Walk, we decided to add some more shapes and added some color to refresh the wall.
EC: It looks like you have completed other walls and murals – could you tell me about how you got started in this and describe your style and influences?
YT:When I was 9 years old, I watched this Japanese animation called “AKIRA.” At the time, I didn’t quite understand the meaning behind the anime, but I remember the colors involved, as well as the insane mutations, and how the artwork was so detailed in that movie. Ever since then, I’ve been drawing really detailed artwork, first with the pen, then gradually I moved onto using spray paint as my medium.
EC: What are some of the other kinds of artistic projects you’ve been part of?
YT: For over 10 years years, I’ve done a lot of album cover work, as well as t-shirt graphics for my close friends and their independent businesses such as Foreign Family, Indyvisual, The Hundreds, Supra, Levis, Maryjoy Recordings, and etc.
EC: How do your murals and canvases relate? Aesthetically, do you try to tie the style or content together?
YT: During the summer of ’98, I got heavy into the graffiti culture in San Francisco, where I went to college. From there, I learned can-control and I started to translate my art onto canvas with spray cans. On the street, I go by a different name and I like to paint more traditional style letters. With canvas and murals, I like to let loose and flow with my signature style of artwork.
EC: Do you know if you will be involved in any kind of upcoming events, projects, or collaborations?
YT: Nothing major as of right now, but I do plan to start up my own brand in a couple of months. Stay tuned!
Ann Bridges is a Los Angeles artist and teacher who works and holds classes in her studio in Koreatown. Andrewshire Gallery’s group exhibition “The Five Spot” runs through November 17. And the Wilshire Center Art & Architecture Walk will run the last Thursday of every month, from 6:00 -10:00 pm.
Yoshi Takahashi is an Angeleno artist specializing in painted murals, hand drawn logos, graphics, and illustrations. He has worked on a variety of projects and collaborations with companies such as Foreign Family, The Hundreds, Swarovski Diamonds, Levis, Quintin, Digitalgravel.com, 6126 by Lindsay Lohan, Selector, Colorflip Clothing, Flip The Script (Japan), Maven Brand (Japan), PunkDrunkers (Japan), and Maryjoy Recordings. On days off, he finds inspiration at flea markets, downtown walls, and the great blue sky of Los Angeles.
Ellen C. Caldwell is an LA-based art historian, editor, and writer.