The growing Culver City Arts District adds alternative transportation to its mix of art, food and music
By Christina Campodonico
The Culver City Arts District has grown into a hotbed of cultural activity over roughly the past decade, but the array of galleries, boutiques and restaurants between Helms Bakery and La Cienega Boulevard is still a little off the beaten path.
“This area is a little bit east and could fall off the radar for people, with all the cool stuff happening in downtown Culver City,” says Michael Russell, executive director of the Culver City Arts District Business Improvement District. “We’re really encouraging people to enter into the arts district and make the jump. … It really has a life of its own.”
To entice more people to explore the budding arts district, the BID is throwing a special block party on Saturday — the Culver City Art Walk & Roll Festival, which embraces electric scooters as an integral part of pedestrian-centric art walk activities.
Washington Boulevard between McManus and Caroline avenues will be closed to cars, allowing entertainment and food trucks and vendors to fill the streets while local brick-and-mortars open their doors to the community.
Russell notes that previous art walks had bands playing shows in parking lots while audiences struggled to cross Washington back and forth between stops. The street closure means that won’t happen anymore.
“The majority [of businesses] will have their doors open and be activating their spaces with music, food and local artists,” says Russell. “We’ve turned a self-guided thing into a full-fledged festival.”
A few places you may want to check out during your traffic-free jaunt include the minimalist fashion boutique Midland (8634 Washington Blvd.), art book emporium Arcana (8675 Washington Blvd.) and the ever-delicious Coolhaus ice cream shop (8588 Washington Blvd.).
Further on, Honor Fraser Gallery (2622 La Cienega Blvd.) hosts an exhibit of California pop artist Ed Ruscha’s Golden State-inspired prints and ephemera; FP Contemporary (5835 Washington Blvd.) showcases Michael Kalish’s multilayered sculptures made from repurposed license plates; and Thinkspace Projects (6009 Washington Blvd.) hosts a dual exhibition featuring the perspective-bending isometrics of Barcelona-based painter Cinta Vidal and the fleshy figurative paintings of Venezuelan artist Benjamin Garcia.
Even if visual art isn’t always your thing, there’s plenty to keep you moving around the festival. There’s
two beer gardens to quench your thirst, a Kids Zone for pint-sized festival-goers, an assortment of food trucks and two stages packed with musical entertainment for the afternoon.
Getting back to those electric scooters, the mobility initiative LA CoMotion is hosting “ReCharge,” a pop-up test track along Washington Boulevard between Hutchison and Faye avenues. There you can try out the latest in alternative mobility technologies like electric scooters, e-bikes and e-boards. Electric rental car and bike company Envoy will also be on hand to show off the latest vehicles in its fleet. And if you really want to go green, you can join up with LA CoMotion and lightweight electric vehicle review site Have A Go on an electric wheel group ride starting at 2:30 p.m. at the end of Wesley Street, outside Morphosis Architects (3440 Wesley St.).
The hope, says Russell, is that showcasing these emerging transportation technologies will encourage people to think about different ways they might transverse Culver City and get to know the arts district.
“A lot of cars idling on Washington is not good for the environment,” he says. “We need to make these options more viable to people by adding these first-mile, last-mile options — Bird, Lime, bikes, skateboards — and encourage anyone who can to help with this congestion.
“It’s kind of inevitable that this area is going to grow,” he continues. “I hope the art walk will give a better sense of the environment.”
The Culver City Art Walk & Roll happens from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 6) on Washington Boulevard between Caroline and McManus avenues. Visit culvercityartwalk.com.