The Streets Are Alive with Storefront Art

Manifest EqualityLast week thousands of people stopped by a former Big Lots store on Vine to sample artworks donated by Robbie Conal, Shepard Fairey, Harvey Pekar and many others. They were on show for a brief but buzzing five days, under the bright fluorescent lights of a onetime supermarket, to raise awareness, and funds, for the Courage Campaign, a progressive organization whose causes include overturning Prop 8 and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (shown, piece by Mike Murphy, left, and, below, volunteer sisters, Suzy, left, and Gabriella Greene). The show, called Manifest Equality, was organized by Jennifer Gross and Yosi Sergant — the force behind the Manifest Hope poster campaign for presidential candidate Barack Obama (Sergant is back in LA after serving briefly as head of PR at the NEA until being forced out last year over an apparent conflict-of-interest.)

But this event was also a use of derelict space that we might start to see a lot more of. There have been a number of these kind of artist-lead pop-up shows in empty storefronts (listen to DnA on “guerrilla” stores). But now the City of Glendale is making it official; they are looking for an art curator to “coordinate and manage installation of art displays in vacant storefronts” in its downtown. Applications are due March 8. One wonders how many other cities might take the lead in turning recession-hit retail spaces into pop-up art spaces in what could be a creative way for art and city to forestall blight.

Suzy and Gabriella at Manifest Equality


  • Sophia

    Pop up art spaces have been around for quite some time!! Liza Simone does an amazing job coordinating Phantom Galleries LA — Bill Viola is currently exhibiting his work in a vacant store front in Long Beach; not too long ago the Pasadena Homestead House on Colorado Blvd. housed some amazing art exhibitions for local artists; Beverly Hills also took part that had a phenomenal group exhibition on Beverly Blvd., and PGLA is now part of the Miracle Mile Arts District (the next art walk is April 17th!). Way to go, Liza!!

  • I too have worked with Phantom Galleries LA. Liza Simone has been able to acquire some really amazing spaces like the Pacific Electric Building downtown, as well as several storefronts at The Pike at Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach. These non-traditional art spaces allow artists and curators to create site-specific exhibitions that break into the public in innovative ways.

  • linda

    i was there and not disappointed by any of the art or the theme behind the show. Artist Mike Murphy piece was inventive as well as artistic.