Frogtown Artwalk sparks ‘childhood fun’

Artist Sylvia Brallier performs a live painting amidst a room full of her artwork at the Frogtown Artwalk in Los Angeles, CA. Sept. 24, 2022. Kate Bown/The Occidental

Elysian Valley Arts Collective’s 2022 Frogtown Artwalk was held Sept. 24, and was an immersive, self-guided tour of pop-up galleries by Elysian Valley artists. The event is a car-free and biker-friendly festival. Now in its 13th year of operation, Frogtown Artwalk introduces community members to local visual artists, musicians and dancers. Art was displayed in both artists’ own studios and local businesses.

A band performs live music at the Frogtown Artwalk in Los Angeles, CA. Sept. 24, 2022. Kate Bown/The Occidental

LA-based artist Ebru Caparti exhibited her abstract acrylic-on-canvas pieces this year. Originally from Turkey, Caparti said she came to the U.S. and studied journalism with no background in art before she started painting. Caparti said she took a break from painting after her friend died from colon cancer. She said that after slowly getting back into painting, she can honor her friend, inspiring one of her favorite works, Crispy Hair, a portrait of her late friend.

Artist Ebru Caparti showcased her work at the Frogtown Artwalk in Los Angeles, CA. Sept. 22nd, 2022. Kate Bown/The Occidental

“I didn’t touch any brushes and colors until [recently], because it’s been very difficult for me, but I’m getting back,” Caparti said. “I plan on getting back to painting again. That’s why [Crispy Hair] has a very special meaning to me and is more emotional.”

Another artist who focuses on using color and abstract visuals in their work is Marc Chiat. His pieces are about the moral dilemmas of an artist coming to terms with war. He said this was his second time displaying work at the Frogtown Artwalk, his first being in 2018, and his work has changed since then. According to Chiat, his work is now based more on the current state of global issues and the mess of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he feels that society is in a digital dark age and he has reverted back to simplistic means of art such as sketching cartoons.

“I wondered if I could keep this spontaneity and this childhood fun I used to have when I started drawing,” Chiat said.

Chiat said by having an open mindset he was able to create one of his more ambitious works, “The History of the Universe from the Beginning until Right Now,” a 10-minute film of 50 stills. He said it focuses on physics and digital derogation of social media.

“It’s a conceptual piece,” Chiat said. “It’s a movie that I’m making and has no beginning or middle or end.”

Many of the artists who showcased work at Frogtown Artwalk create art that reflects personal stories, backgrounds and relationships with the world. Emelda M. Gutierrez showcased their small collection of prints, handmade terracotta pots and magnets on Gilroy Street.

Artist Emelda M. Gutierrez showcasing their work at the Frogtown Artwalk in Los Angeles, CA. Sept. 24, 2022. Kate Bown/The Occidental

Gutierrez said they get inspiration from the interaction between the city and nature and that reflections of their Chicanx heritage can be seen in their work. Gutierrez said they want to encourage other artists to let go of the pressure to have everything look perfect or uniform. They said their work is based on experimentation and that if artists are afraid of that, it can stunt their creativity.

“I’ve taken plates, really nicely polished ones, and taken them to the floor and just scraped them up,” Gutierrez said. “I think doing art is a practice, it’s something that you practice every day. You have to try new things. You can’t just get stuck in the same kind of [process]. Don’t be afraid to break the rules.”

Gutierrez said artists need to show their work and artistic interpretations. At the artwalk, children were especially welcome, with event programming geared toward younger age groups. Caparti said it is important to showcase art to younger audiences because art can inspire children and expand their creative environments.

A dancer performing as a part of MashUp Contemporary Dance Company for the Frogtown Artwalk in Los Angeles, CA. Sept. 24, 2022. Kate Bown/The Occidental

“I think it’s very important that kids especially see art because they’re a huge human imagination,” Caparti said. “If little kids have this kind of urge inside of them they should follow their heart because I’m sure they’d be successful. [They] just need exposure to art and the [artists] themselves.”

The Frogtown Artwalk occurs biennially and will feature pop-up galleries, musical performances and art installations along the LA River again in 2024. The artwalk is an inclusive event that welcomes everyone to uplift the Elysian Valley community and local artists.

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