On big art, hipster beards and M-3 zon­ing

Los Angeles Times - - LOS ANGELES -

Weird lit­tle dogs on short leashes barked. Edgy rock blared. Bean bags slammed hard onto street-art-cov­ered corn­hole boards. And there, in the vast re­pur­posed in­dus­trial space that is An­gel City Brew­ery, Tyler Stone­breaker sipped a Gold Line pil­sner and talked at a rat-a-tat pace about the role he and Cre­ative Space co-founder Michael Smith have played in spurring the vi­tal­ity of Los An­ge­les’ Arts Dis­trict — mainly by con­nect­ing busi­nesses with build­ings. The Cal­i­for­nia sec­tion’s Bob Sipchen lis­tened, then emailed Stone­breaker ques­tions. We crunched the con­ver­sa­tion into this: Part of Cre­ative Space’s “man­i­festo” is: “It takes a cof­fee shop to build a vil­lage.” Huh?

Cof­fee shops, bars, restau­rants, etc. are part of the “in­stant neigh­bor­hood” in­gre­di­ent kit. Here’s another motto that was go­ing to re­shape down­town LA: “Food­ski, Fun­ski, Brewski.” Where did Gorky’s go wrong?

Your guess is as good as mine. You’ve been in­ter­viewed in or pro­filed by sprudge.com, laimy­ours.com, foodgps.com, cre­ative­morn­ings.com, blog­down­town.com, apart­ment­ther­apy.com, laeater.com, thegray­mar­ket.com, fig­ure­plant.com and grubstreet.com, and these Web en­ti­ties have called you a “cre­ative en­abler,” “civic pup­pet master,” “gen­tle gi­ant,” “neigh­bor­hood sculp­tor” and “cu­ra­tor of neigh­bor­hoods.” About the only la­bel they say doesn’t ap­ply is “bro­ker with the fat tie that no­body likes.” So?

La­bels are what they are. We’re not do­ing any of these things in­ten­tion­ally — just work­ing with our friends who are way more in­ter­est­ing than we are. How cool is Rem Kool­haas?

Rem is the man! Us­ing Rem’s words, from his book “Mu­ta­tions”: Cities (es­pe­cially global cities) are the “pro­duc­tion sites for the lead­ing in­for­ma­tion in­dus­tries of our time.”

Gen­er­ally speak­ing, the more di­verse an ecosys­tem is, the health­ier it is. Non­na­tive species can wreak havoc on an ex­ist­ing ecosys­tem. So when an area is in­vaded by some­thing or some­one that is not na­tive to that area and/or re­spect­ful of what makes that par­tic­u­lar place/com­mu­nity what it is, then things start get­ting out of whack. You grew up in Corona del Mar. A hell­hole?

Pretty on the out­side, not much on the in­side, at least any­more. In the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia land­scape of your mind, where do or­ange groves fit in?

Notwith­stand­ing the cur­rent is­sues with the drought, I’d much rather see or­ange groves than ugly de­cay­ing tract homes sit­ting on top of some of the most nu­tri­ent-rich soil in the world. You say that the Arts Dis­trict’s sculp­tors and pain­ters are blessed by the area’s in­dus­trial zon­ing, right?

Where there are build­ings, there is zon­ing (short of places like Hous­ton). Ur­ban plan­ning in­flu­ences what ac­tiv­i­ties hap­pen where. The pro­duc­tion of art, es­pe­cially art that in­volves phys­i­cal ma­te­ri­als — which are of­ten toxic and/or flammable — isn’t al­lowed by a lot of zon­ing cat­e­gories. You think that the sprawl­ing low-rise apart­ment build­ings pop­ping up on down­town’s eastern edge are a sign that the city val­ues hous­ing over art?

If you put hous­ing — hous­ing that might as well be any­where — above art in the dis­trict called the Arts Dis­trict, then it’s hard to be­lieve oth­er­wise. Hous­ing is im­por­tant, but there are bet­ter places for generic hous­ing than an M-3 zoned area, with no di­rect public trans­porta­tion and zero sup­port for ground up hous­ing. No one in the neigh­bor­hood wants hous­ing ex­cept out­side de­vel­op­ers from the sub­urbs who have dreams of be­com­ing the next “ur­ban pi­o­neer.” Aren’t pretty sub­urbs gonna make a come­back when the first ur­ban hipster’s tod­dler gets hep­ati­tis by step­ping on a dis­carded heroin nee­dle?

Who knows? I’m not sure what I’d do if that hap­pened to me. How much shame do you feel about the pro­lif­er­a­tion of hipster beards?

Peo­ple can and should ex­press them­selves how­ever they see fit.

The tat­toos?

To each his own.

TYLER STONE­BREAKER Selfie with son Steven at Hol­ly­wood Hills home.

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