Return to Community Arts: How Local Arts Organizations Resist Hierarchy



SCI-Arc Channel and Carla have teamed up to co-produce a series of short films that focus on LA-based artists who are working around issues of community and social justice.

Spurred by the ever-shifting relationship between art and the community, this film follows art critic and journalist Catherine Wagley, who looks directly at artist groups and collectives who engage with the community through acts of mutual aid and support as well as artistic collaboration. Spotlighting Crenshaw Dairy Mart, Los Angeles Poverty Department, and Summaeverythang, Wagley investigates artistic practices and spaces that resist art world hierarchies, making room for experimentation and exploration in the community.

Catherine Wagley is an art critic and journalist based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in ARTNews, East of Borneo, Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Los Angeles Times. Formerly an art critic for LA Weekly, she is a contributing editor for Momus and Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles. In 2019, she received the Rabkin Prize for visual art journalism.

The Crenshaw Dairy Mart, home to an artist collective and art gallery housed in a former dairy mart in Inglewood, California is dedicated to shifting the trauma-induced conditions of poverty and economic injustice. Bridging cultural work and advocacy and investigating ancestries through the lens of Inglewood and its surrounding community, the Crenshaw Dairy Mart emerged from a need to serve Black and transnational individuals through programming, events, and arts installations. From an investment in abolition, the Crenshaw Dairy Mart seeks to weave community solidarity through new modes of accessibility which cultivate and nurture communal arts and education.

Summaeverythang Community Center, Inc. is nonprofit organization and community center founded by artist Lauren Halsey dedicated to the empowerment and transcendence of Black and Brown folks sociopolitically, economically, intellectually, and artistically by providing free, fresh, organic produce to residents of Watts, Compton, and South Central LA.

Founded in 1985 by director-performer-activist John Malpede, the Los Angeles Poverty Department was the first performance group in the nation made up principally of unhoused people, and the first arts program of any kind for unhoused people in Los Angeles. LAPD, as the first arts organization on Skid Row, immediately became active in a conversation and a movement with advocates, residents, and social service professionals that put forward the idea that Skid Row could be improved, by embracing and nourishing the powers of the people who live there. LAPD’s activities and projects have used theater and other arts to thematically focus on a constellation of interrelated issues of continuing importance to Skid Row, and other low-income communities, including gentrification and community displacement, drug recovery, the war on drugs and drug policy reform, the status of women and children on Skid Row, and mass incarceration and the criminalization of poverty.

Based on a review by Catherine Wagley, Carla Issue 25.

Crew Credits:

Production:
Creator and Executive Producer – Hernán Díaz Alonso
Producers – Marcelyn Gow/Reza Monahan
Segment Producers – Kavior Moon/Lindsay Preston Zappas
Interviewer – Kavior Moon
Director – Reza Monahan
Director of Photography – Sean Morris
B Camera – Armeen Monahan
C Camera – Jason Chapron
Sound Engineer – George Wymenga

Post-Production:
Story Producer – Kavior Moon
Editors – Cal Crawford/Reza Monahan

©2022 SCI-Arc Channel

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