Some time has passed since the tragedy on Spring Street, though not enough to gain any real perspective. I’ve been tweeting every article posted online regarding the Art Walk Accident… trying to help keep everybody informed of all the opinions out there. It’s painful, reading the stories… then reading all the comments that follow. Because the accident is so completely tragic, attitudes are hot and rightfully so.
There are many art walk babies out there. In my tours of Downtown, I’ve encountered numerous couples who met during an art walk. They fell in love and had babies. Those are happy stories and I got accustomed to hearing that so it’s terribly humbling to hear the exact opposite occurring in the streets of Gallery Row. I simply cannot accurately express how saddened I am for the grieving couple for the loss of their newborn.
Typically, I never resort to commentary on the Gallery Row twitter feed. It’s not about me, but about promoting all the cultural events happening in Downtown but it’s difficult to keep my mouth shut. To that end, only links have been posted with only the article’s headline as a teaser. I could opine my thoughts ruggedly into the status updates, but I got a spot here to do that. After all, Niche.LA is ultimately a reflection of my aesthetic and the work of my business partners. So here goes…
There’s a lot of controversy out there regarding the handling of the accident by the police. First of all, everybody needs to thank the LAPD for their years of continued service towards the art walk. For a long time, many of them volunteered their time to help make sure art walk is safe. It wouldn’t be possible without their cooperation. But some questions linger like a bad habit. Such as… Why was the driver let go at the scene of the accident, especially since he didn’t have a license?
To the person who suggested to move the event somewhere else… really? How do you suggest we move 40 art galleries, museums, and public art installations? It’s called Art Walk for a reason. If you imagined everything’s on wheels, then you came for the food trucks, in which case you’re absolutely right. Move the event. Now.
Or more accurately, move the food trucks because they have nothing to do with Art Walk. They’re simply here to piggyback and capitalize on the movement art walk started, which turned it from 5,000 art enthusiasts to 20,000 attendees in one summer. Now, this sounds like a wonderful thing and on one side of the coin, it is. It’s an incredibly satisfying thing to know Gallery Row is responsible for bringing so much art and culture into Downtown, but the other side is the fact the streets and sidewalks are now grossly congested with revelers and people don’t feel as safe. Many arrive after the galleries close so it’s not even about the art anymore. I’ve always told parents it’s absolutely safe to bring their children to art walk… and it is, but I can no longer say that without having to explain the final destination freak accident that occurred which claimed the life of a 2-month old. It’s no longer a selling point when promoting Gallery Row or Downtown to timid Westsiders. Perception is everything in LA.
There’s a petition out there to shut the streets down during art walk, which sounds like a reasonable given considering the circumstances, but it’s not that easy and that’s not necessarily the answer. People live in Downtown. They need 24 hour access in and out of their lofts. As residents, it’s their privilege and right to suggest otherwise. On the contrary, the petition should be to move the food trucks entirely in an effort to make Art Walk about ART again. Make Art Walk about the community again. Make Art Walk about Downtown again. If you never intend on purchasing art, then you’re not our intended audience and the event would do better without you clogging the sidewalks. Please do not drink the free wine.
Fuck it. Take away the food and make it educational. The numbers will dwindle and art walk will be safe again.