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Democratizing Art & Digital DIY Dating

February 2012

By Kateri O'Neil, Los Angeles

As February 5th marked the culmination of the Getty Museum’s major Pacific Standard Time exhibition “Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in LA Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970,” Los Angeles has been abuzz with art. Thanks to an article in the New York Times pronouncing Los Angeles as “a new pin on the art map,” Tinseltown is finally reveling in the limelight of its long-overdue glory as a source and incubator of contemporary and cutting-edge art.

However, while aesthetic appreciation used to be limited to elite collectors, art schools, and a few clusters and collectives peppered around town, art has infiltrated LA’s mainstream and new grassroots art compounds keep popping up all around town, from Culver City to Chinatown and from North Hollywood to Echo Park. The throngs of visitors who flock to the Downtown Art Walk (which now attracts upwards of 30,000 visitors during the 2nd Thursday of each month) and the resounding success of MOCA’s “Art in the Streets” exhibition—which broke MOCA’s attendance record thanks to the 201,352 visitors it welcomes through its doors from April 17th to August 8th last year—surely support this statement – as does the fact that Shepherd Fairey and Banksy are global sensations.

Furthermore, DIY fairs like Affordable Art Fair LA and the Renegade Crafts Fair have taken LA by storm, signaling not only that art can transcend high-brow institutions, but also that collecting art is no longer a practice exclusive to an elite class. While IKEA may have introduced sleek, Scandinavian design to mainstream America, LA is taking a growing interest in décor and design, just as American consumers are taking greater pride in curating their own homes and reflecting their personal style in their homes. GOOD LA’s launch weekend last year was a smashing success, thanks to a bonanza of “urban adventures, DIY workshops, hack-a-thons, civic engagements, artist interventions, resource-sharing, literary readings, film screenings, book club meetings, neighborhood walks, and locally-made goods.” In a similar spirit, though focused specifically on local, sustainable and handmade edibles, Artisanal LA’s holiday pop-up attracted foodies and aesthetes alike.

Just this past weekend, Unique LA’s “LOCAL LOVE” Show attracted flocks of fans of art, design, and crafts to The California Market Center Penthouse for the largest independent design show in the country. Not only did the fair feature over 325 hand-selected designers and artists, but attendees could also partake in a series of DIY workshops with all proceeds going directly to local merchants and a percentage donated to the wonderful organization that is 826LA.

Ultimately, even in a time of recession, art inspires and consumers are increasingly eager to engage with and collect handmade pieces and one-of-a-kind objects that display talent, artistry, and craftsmanship, proving that DIY art/design/craft enthusiasts and collectors are a growing—and lucrative—market.

In a car culture like LA’s, romance sometimes needs an extra push—and OKcupid’s arrow seems to be working its magic far and wide. Since chance meetings and serendipitous encounters are a rare occurrence in a destination-driven town, commutes often entail a solitary experience in which Angelenos find themselves cut off from others in their own hermetically-sealed automobiles. Such conditions are not conducive to socializing or dating, so many are resorting to ye olde internet. New sites like Pinterest are luring subscribers seeking a more sophisticated social network than Facebook; the “Virtual Pinboard” platform already boasts some 5 million registered users who actively curate themed image boards online, populating them with their favorite media and sharing them with followers. As for OKcupid, its unique site visits doubled to 7 million per month since 2010 and conversations with a range of friends certainly points to its growing popularity and pervasiveness in LA. Research claims that amongst 1,400 American dating websites, the U.S. matchmaking industry generated $1.135 billion last year – romance certainly seems to be recession-proof!

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