On a recent episode of Corridor Cast, Stephen Seemayer discusses his career as an artist and landlord in downtown L.A., as well as his feature documentaries — “Young Turks” and “Tales of the American” — about the genesis of the Los Angeles Arts District.
Seemayer moved downtown from the San Fernando Valley in 1976, turning an abandoned brothel on the second floor of a building at 9th & Central into a 16-room artist compound, complete with darkroom and a screening room.
As a performance artist, filmmaker, painter and photographer, his often controversial work has been exhibited all over the United States.
His late mother, Lynne Westmore Bloom, was the notorious creator of the Pink Lady of Malibu — a monumental feat of guerrilla art in 1966 — and on Corridor Cast, he recounts growing up with the eccentric and rule-breaking artist.
The historic 19th-century building known as Citizens Warehouse — occupied by artists such as Carlton Davis, Marc Kreisel, Ed Glendinning and others in the 1970s, '80s and '90s — went up in flames in the early morning hours of Sat., Nov. 10, 2018.
The building is featured in several scenes of the documentary "Young Turks," including the opening in which the band Fat & Fucked Up play their brand of punk-classical music next to a brick wall with the words "Young Turks" spray-painted on it. It was also home to the Art Dock, a drive-by art gallery operated from 1981-86 by Carlton Davis in the loading dock of his loft.
Purchased by the City of Los Angeles several years ago, part of the building had been demolished for widening of the 1st Street Bridge to make room for Metro's Gold Line extension. Faced with Metro's effort to raze the rest of the building, preservationists had recently (within the past month) won a battle with the city to save a portion of the building, possibly for future use as low-income housing for artists.
Reported Sat., Nov. 10, 2018, 2:49 p.m.
The Hi-Desert Cultural Center in Yucca Valley will present the world premiere of The Pearly Gates Collection at its new Yucca Valley Visual & Performing Arts Center (YVArts) on Nov. 3, 2018, with a celebratory public gala from 6-9 p.m. The Pearly Gates Collection pays tribute to the late art curator Walter Hopps — at one time the youngest museum director in the United States — whose pioneering curatorial approach garnered him much acclaim. The exhibition will unveil 50 original artworks from renowned artists, curated by YVArts Executive Curator Michael McCall, who was a close friend of Hopps.
McCall says the Pearly Gates project, started four years ago, was the culmination of a 3-decade mentorship under Walter Hopps, who died in 2005. Hopps’ obituary in The Washington Post described him as a "sort of a gonzo museum director — elusive, unpredictable, outlandish in his range, jagged in his vision, heedless of rules.” In that spirit, McCall began in November 2014 a “curatorial performance event,” trading banknotes Hopps had collected on his many world travels to artists McCall knew in exchange for artworks. Using what he labeled “Hopps Money,” McCall amassed a collection Hopps could appreciate from beyond the pearly gates.
The Pearly Gates Collection features artworks and writings by Richard Amend, Anthony Ausgang, Larry Bell, Gary Brewer, Matthew Couper, Woods Davy, Doug Edge, Joe Fay, Jim Finnegan, Ed Flynn, Clark Fox, Megan Frances, Peter Frank, Nick Fyhrie, Mat Gleason, Ed Glendinning, Brian Goings, Peter Goode, Emily Halpern, George Herms, Charles Christopher Hill, Brad Howe, Paula Izydorek, Terry Karpowitz, Ed and Nancy Keinholz, Rockne Krebs, Tom Lieber, Laurie Le Clair, Gary Lloyd, Aline Mare, Darwin Estacio Martinez, Michael McCall, Todd Monagham, Jim Morphesis, Andy Moses, Lindsey Nobel, Al Nodal, Loren Philip, Pierre Picot, Ave Pildas, Robin Rose, Catherine Ruane, Rafael Serrano, Stephen Seemayer, Alan Sonneman, The Art Guys, The Dark Bob, Jeffrey Vallance, Bob Wade and Norton Wisdom.
The Pearly Gates Collection
Nov. 3, 2018 through Jan. 20, 2019
Opening gala: Sat., Nov. 3, 2018, 6-9 p.m.
“Tales of the American” — a new documentary about the Downtown Los Angeles arts scene from the makers of “Young Turks” and Executive Producer Michael Connelly — is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
“Tales of the American” tells the story of the American Hotel, located at the heart of what has come to be called the Arts District. Built in 1905 as the city’s first hotel for African-Americans, the modest brick building at the corner of Traction and Hewitt has always been a haven for society’s outcasts, a magnet for colorful characters and a hotbed of creative energy.
From 1980-2001, it was the home of Al's Bar, a legendary dive featured in "Young Turks," where punk bands like Black Flag, X and Nirvana played before finding fame and fortune.
Narrated by public radio personality John Rabe, “Tales of the American” features archival photos and footage, and interviews with artists, musicians and others who lived, worked or played at the American Hotel. Filmmakers Stephen Seemayer and Pamela Wilson have captured the history of a landmark, and the free spirit of a creative community now facing the challenges of overdevelopment and gentrification.
In Michael Connelly’s best-selling novel, “The Wrong Side of Goodbye,” iconic detective Harry Bosch follows the trail of his case into L.A.’s Arts District. He’s a private eye now, after being forced out of the LAPD, and his investigation draws him to Traction Avenue and landmarks such as the American Hotel and the triangle lot between 3rd & Rose.
Bosch is one of the great characters of mystery fiction, right up there with Philip Marlowe, and like Marlowe’s creator, Raymond Chandler, Connelly paints a haunting and vivid picture of Los Angeles and the Southland in all his Bosch books, including “The Wrong Side of Goodbye.” As the New York Times writes, “the settings will be etched into the Bosch road map of California life.”
Pamela Wilson and Stephen Seemayer, filmmakers of “Young Turks” and “Tales of the American,” are very proud and honored to have shared some insights with Michael Connelly in the preparation of this book.
“Tales of the American” and “Young Turks” can be viewed on digital platforms including Amazon Prime, which also is producing the TV series, “Bosch,” now filming its fifth season.
People magazine, in its style section, features an article on Gillean McLeod, who once played drums and other instruments as a member of the Party Boys, a seminal Los Angeles punk band featured in "Young Turks."
The 60-year-old McLeod, a stylist and model, is breaking boundaries in a new ad campaign for H&M swimwear.
In two recent articles, Los Angeles Times writer Carolina A. Miranda reminds Angelenos that there were artists, galleries and others in the Arts District before it was called the Arts District.
Stephen Seemayer, artist, filmmaker: "It was very bleak. There wasn’t crack yet. There wasn’t AIDS. But there was a sense of desolation. It was so desolate that even the cops didn’t really want to deal with you. I was 3 to 4 blocks away from the Newton Division and it’s famous in the LAPD. They were called the 'Shootin’ Newton.' I was like 22 at the time. I would be there at my studio and they’d see me out of my car and they’d roust me and said, 'What are you doing in this neighborhood?' And I’d say, 'I live here.' And they’d say, 'Get out!'"
More great music from The Dark Bob, this time in collaboration with Lewis MacAdams. Produced & arranged by the dynamic duo, "Good Grief" features DJ Bonebrake on drums, Nels Cline on guitar, Danny Frankel on percussion and Ryan Zin on bass, with Mike Bolger, Michael Intriere, Glenn Nishida & Jack Skelley.