A new arts enclave awaits discovery in a former industrial space

Painter Gianna Vargas in her Hawthorne Arts Complex studio
Photo by Christina Campodonico

From the outside, you wouldn’t think an industrial building deep in the heart of Hawthorne would be teeming with arts activity. But step inside this giant warehouse on the other side of the 405 and it’s filled with creativity, music and community.

A jazz band plays. Kids scamper around and paint on butcher paper-covered walls. Their parents nosh on a spread of snacks laid out on a communal kitchenette’s dining table. There’s a chalkboard wall covered with doodles, and large paintings and sculptures leaning up against the walls. It’s like an art gallery opening, a studio visit and a kid-friendly arts and crafts day all rolled into one.

This was the scene at the inaugural Hawthorne Arts Complex open studio event in March, when artists with the newly renovated space first opened their studios to the public. Inside its 25 studios, I discovered the work of photographers, ceramicists, assemblage artists and painters, each with their own unique style.

Artist Gianna Vargas artist showed me her wonderfully wild large-scale paintings of protozoan-looking shapes and circles. Fiber artist Aneesa Shami showed me her latest work-in-progress on her loom. A photographer even snapped a few photos of me when I visited her built-from-scratch photography studio.

These artists and more share their work for another open studio event this Sunday. Expect live jazz, free food, drinks and some delightfully unexpected art in an unexpected haven for the arts.

— Christina Campodonico

Hawthorne Arts Complex hosts its next open studios event from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 16, at 13040 Cerise Ave., Hawthorne. Free. Visit hawthorneartscomplex.com.