Is ArtWalk is back on point?
This month ArtWalk is at the epicenter of an international invitational of art from Pakistan. It’s a sign that perhaps Art Walk is finding a way back to its roots, and could be poised for a resurgence. It’s type of significant involvement in art that we think is a very, very, very smart move.
For many people who live and work downtown, ArtWalk has been a mixed bag. What began as a vanguard effort of artists, galleries and craftsmen has, over the years, evolved into a street scene that’s strayed from it original intent. By focusing on the “event” aspect, ArtWalk has been loosing it’s appear to the very core of what drove it’s early success. The urban intelligenstia that marked the majority of ArtWalk have disconnected.
It’s difficult to maintain a progressive position after over 100 months of sequential happenings. That’s a long time for anything to endure in LA, especially to the avante garde. And ArtWalk has experimented with a variety of approaches, dropping to a low point with a monthly sponsorship by SK Energy Shots, rapper 50 Cent’s RedBull knockoff. The brand had devolved without a clear focus on essential core and promise: Art, Discovery, Experimentation.
We’re thrilled that Art Walk is partnering with the Pakistani Consulate and the LA Department of Cultural Affairs for a new show called Art Within and Beyond Pakistan, which opened on December 12th. Given the current global cultural disconnect between middle east and west, the show opens important dialog to thaw perception among strange bedfellows. Through art, there’s common ground that begins to illustrate the fact that we’re not as disparate as we’re led to believe. The loud, visible, vocal minorities committed to fundamentalism, patriotism, greed and power aren’t always representative of the majority. And although the show was largely scrubbed of provocative content by the officials, the paintings that arrived showed classical attention to beauty, color, depth and presence.
The exhibit includes over 50 new works by artists never seen before in the Western hemisphere, ranging from some of Pakistan’s most celebrated contemporary painters, to up-and-comers with an incisive eye trained on the shifting political and cultural landscape. Saturated in a warm kaleidoscope of golds and reds, the work represents modern Pakistan in all its layered beauty and diverse perspectives.
Ghosts of the past and modern abstractions bleed together in A.Q. Arif’s modern renditions of Mughal Empire structures; while a limbless woman models western style dress and a young legless man sports a hijab in painter Akbar Ali’s keen observations on today’s Pakistani youth. These artists and others in the show reveal a Pakistan that rarely makes the news.
In addition to the consulate core, opening night attendees included Olga Garay-English and James Burks from the Department of Cultural Affairs as well as council member Tom LaBonge, Police Chief Blake Chow and Deputy Police Chief Michael Downing.
It’s all a huge coup for ArtWalk organizers, who have finally made it apriority to attract international exhibits to the predominantly homegrown fare that has thus far characterized this monthly arts event. Hopefully it’s is an indication of a welcome shift in what Art Walk is all about.