Housed: Life on Skid Row »

Introduction to Housed: Life on Skid Row

Posted September 1, 2015 by | 8 Comments | ]

The most recent census of Los Angeles county’s homeless population found the largest number of unhoused people in the smallest geographic area: 11, 681 in Metro LA. For this series, we focused on the most densely populated neighborhood: the .4 square mile region known as Skid Row. The main thoroughfare is S. San Pedro Street.
Market rate rental units and pricey condos dot the neighborhood and continue …

Housed: Life on Skid Row, News »

John Kelly: The Advocate

Posted September 1, 2015 by | 1 Comment | ]

John Kelly, a Vietnam vet from south central and recovered addict who spent 15 years on the streets, is outreach coordinator at the Los Angeles Mission. He helps people in need navigate the maze of available services.
“Why do you think people sleep on the streets? There’s no law against it downtown. It’s that simple,” he says.

This story is part of our series, Housed: Life …

Housed: Life on Skid Row »

Amos Sandifer: The Newly Housed

Posted September 1, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]
Amos Sandifer in his new apartment. Photo: Aaron Fallon

Amos Sandifer, a recovering crack addict, is co-creator of the citizen journalism site, After two years on the streets, he found a place to live through Skid Row Housing Trust earlier this year.
“It feels good knowing you pay rent, you have a place to stay, and it’s yours. First couple days, I couldn’t believe it,” he says.

This story is part of our series, …

Housed: Life on Skid Row, News »

Theresa V. Thompson: The Veteran

Posted September 1, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]

Theresa V. Thompson found herself homeless and living in a shelter after a divorce. An Air Force veteran, she now counsels other vets from her perch at the Los Angeles Public Library.
“You think you have it all together, you’re working every day, you’re saving money and just like the veterans I’ve seen, if you lose a job, that money begins to go real fast,” …

Housed: Life on Skid Row, News »

Gretchen Hatz: The Loft Dweller

Posted September 1, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]
Photo: Aaron Fallon

Camera assistant Gretchen Hatz bought her dream loft in a converted factory on the edge of Skid Row nine years ago. She got a crash course in the needs of her neighbors.
“Every day, it makes me feel more fortunate about what I have and sadly about what a lot of people don’t have,” she says.

This story is part of our series, Housed: Life on …

Housed: Life on Skid Row »

Stephanie Williams: The Seamstress

Posted September 1, 2015 by | 2 Comments | ]
Stephanie Williams says she helps people by patching up ripped clothing and backpacks. Photo: Aaron Fallon

Stephanie Williams sleeps in a tent on Skid Row next to her sewing machine, where she offers donation-based mending to people who have little more than the clothing on their backs.
“I’m not scared at all. I’ve got a lot of friends and a lot of support. I have more support here than I do from my own family,” she says.

This story is part of …

Arts & Culture, News »

How eating (grass-fed) meat changed one family’s life

Posted July 1, 2015 by | 1 Comment | ]
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Jared Stone wanted to get back to his roots.  Though he lives in southern California and works in the entertainment industry, he’s originally from Kansas.  He started thinking about what he eats, and realized that he knew more about the inner workings of his TV set than the origins of his food.
He could have planted a garden, but instead, he found himself driving north …

Arts & Culture, Interviews »

Boyle Heights students honor their school’s namesake

Posted June 17, 2015 by | 1 Comment | ]
Students Kimberly Espinoza and Ashley Lopez are among the contributors to the book

Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez High School in Boyle Heights is a living history lesson for the kids who attend it. Students learn about the Mendez family in Orange County, and their successful 1946 challenge to end segregation after their children were refused the right to attend their neighborhood school because of the color of their skin. The Mendez case set the stage for the more familiar landmark Brown vs Board of Education, …

Arts & Culture »

Inside the mind and journals of Exene Cervenka

Posted June 3, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]
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“It’s a strange time in which we live,” says the punk rock singer and visual artist Exene Cervenka as we sit inside the gallery at Bergamot Station that’s readying an exhibit of her artwork. “I’m glad I didn’t grow up now.”
Cervenka says she couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be on the road with her band, X, now. Back in the ’80s, she found herself so …

Arts & Culture, News »

Faith, food, color-blind equality: A photographer turns her lens on a dwindling 20th century religious movement

Posted May 27, 2015 by | 14 Comments | ]
Bedford_01.KCRW Blog

Devotees of the early twentieth century spiritual leader known as Father Divine don’t go to church. They practice what they believe by living together, communally, and preparing an enormous banquet each day. During their feast, they listen to tapes of the man they called God, who died back in 1965 and who at one time had tens of thousands of followers.
Besides his claim of divinity, …

Arts & Culture, Interviews, News »

How women were the unsung heroes of the Mexican Revolution

Posted May 13, 2015 by | 1 Comment | ]
Soldadera: Leandra Becerra Lumbreras, the year before her death at age 127

The artist Nao Bustamante was already working on a show about soldaderas, the women who fought with and ably assisted the troops in the Mexican Revolution, when she learned about Leandra Becerra Lumbreras–said to be the oldest survivor of the conflict that began in 1910.
She arranged to take her crew to Mexico to interview this woman who said she had fought the war “with her tortillas,” …

Arts & Culture »

Long before Lady Gaga, Sophie Tucker had the corner on outrageous

Posted April 29, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]

She wasn’t exactly a looker, and no one would ever accuse her of being slender. That didn’t stop Sophie Tucker from rising to unprecedented superstardom in a career that spanned six decades. In fact, it probably helped.
After running away from her Orthodox Jewish family in Hartford, she stole the show at the Ziegfeld Follies at age 22 and until she died in 1966, was famed as …

Arts & Culture, LA Noir »

iPhone-wielding gawkers blinded by whiteout on Sunset

Posted April 27, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]

Locals have long called the scary-looking dilapidated structure at the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Bates Ave. the Bates Motel, though that’s not really its name. It just reminds people of the iconic motel in Hitchcock’s Psycho.
The former Sunset Pacific Hotel has been long-abandoned. Back when he was a City Councilman, Mayor Eric Garcetti called this one of the most troublesome properties in the city. …

Arts & Culture, economy, Interviews »

Will a rebranded neighborhood have room for the poor?

Posted April 22, 2015 by | 1 Comment | ]

Every year, filmmaker Drew Bachrach (who earns a living creating content-for-hire) saves up enough money to make his own work in the summertime, to pursue a passion project. When he heard about the planned demolition of a housing project in Watts, built decades ago as temporary barracks for veterans returning from World War II, he knew he’d found his subject. He wondered if what happened …

Arts & Culture »

“Pass it on” takes on a whole new meaning in the hands of artists

Posted April 20, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]
New York painter Jana Weaver went first, and the game went on from there

The wonders of the Internet never cease. Inspired by the children’s game Telephone, curator Nathan Langston has used the web to link together 315 artists around the world in a unique and enduring fashion in an online gallery that’s just debuted and is sure to lure you in for hours on end.

In Telephone, players whisper one message down a chain of people to see how it morphs and ultimately gets interpreted. In …

Arts & Culture, News »

The grout-bearing stork, or, when your “baby” is your art

Posted April 15, 2015 by | 3 Comments | ]
Guests at the shower brought not diapers, but grout

Unless you happen to dwell in the 1% stratosphere of mega-superstars, you know the eternal artistic struggle: how to make enough money to pay the bills, and still leave time for projects of passion. Artist and educator Katrina Alexy came up with a solution: She calls it an art-ernity leave. She got her boss at The Pilgrim School to give her an unpaid year off from her job as an art teacher, figuring …

Arts & Culture »

An artist eavesdrops into the world of bees

Posted April 8, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]
Bee Purple by Jessica Rath

Artist Jessica Rath was first inspired to immerse herself in the world of the bee when she witnessed what’s called a “cold huddle” years ago, a swarm of bees churning to create friction for warmth. “The sound stayed in my head,” she said, “and I began talking to composer Bob Hoehn about translating bee behavior into a very large score and making a human …

Arts & Culture, News »

As the Arts District turns: The rapid transformation of a once-sleepy neighborhood

Posted April 1, 2015 by | 4 Comments | ]
Photo by Melissa Richardson Banks

With the news over the last few weeks that Soho House and other high-profile tenants are snapping up property in the Arts District, a hue and cry has erupted (at least in some media outposts) that the once-gritty neighborhood is done–at least for artists.
I met up with long-time resident, photographer and neighborhood activist Melissa Richardson Banks to hear her take. She drove me around the 52-block area late last Saturday …

Arts & Culture, News »

Turning trash into art: The life-changing magic of “Consumed”

Posted March 30, 2015 by | 1 Comment | ]
Mary Mattingly; Life of Objects, 2013, courtesy of the artist and Robert Mann Gallery

Long before the current bestselling book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” the artist China Adams decided to reassess her possessions. In 1995, she rid herself of any material item she considered to be unnecessary– 77.13 percent of what she owned ranked as “official burden status” under a three-point system she developed. Then, she reduced those things down to their essence, stitched them into pieces of tarp using …

Arts & Culture, Interviews, News »

The woman who’s bringing LA to the world’s most influential art fair

Posted March 25, 2015 by | 3 Comments | ]

More evidence of the influence and importance of Los Angeles as far as the fine art world: Meet the Venice (California)-based Elizabeta Betinski, known affectionately to some artists around town as “Boom Boom.”  She’s the force behind an upcoming show, featuring the work of 20 LA-based artists, that’ll hang adjacent to the Venice (Italy) Biennale. This is just one of three exhibitions that have been chosen as …

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