INGLEWOOD, Calif. — After taking two years off due to the pandemic, Inglewood artists reopened the doors to their working spaces, galleries, and even the historic downtown Miracle Theater for the 13th annual Inglewood Open Studios (IOS) art walk this past weekend, November 12 and 13. 

Getting through the event’s entire itinerary on foot was an ambitious task. The sprawling southwestern Los Angeles County city spans over nine square miles, so a shuttle was provided to transport people across three routes. In the open studios’ nexus along Market Street, visitors sampled the community’s work at group exhibitions at Residency: Project Space, the Black-owned gallery founded in 2016; Concourse, a pop-up space mounted just for the art walk, and the Miracle Theater before traveling to artists’ intimate studio spaces.

The art walk has been running since 2006, and this year’s edition featured more than 20 venues across the city, including D2 Art, ECF Art Center, and Flowlicious. Local preschools and elementary schools also hosted pop-up exhibitions, showing how deeply embedded Inglewood artists are in their community. Studio spaces are quite spread out: Some artists, like Minna Philips, are based out of classic California bungalows, and a few hubs, like the Beacon Arts Building and 1019 West, have dozens of artists creating art in converted lofts. 

Kwanzaa, “360 Degrees of Healing — One Day at a Time” (2019)

The group shows helped establish some themes that Inglewood artists have been grappling with during their art walk hiatus. Much of the work on view explored healing, spiritualism, freedom, and everyday slices of life through mediums like painting, sculpture, fiber, and photography. At Concourse, painter Kwanzaa’s “360 Degrees of Healing — One Day at a Time” (2019) incorporated esoteric motifs, including the colors of the seven chakras and spirals emitting from the third eye. Her work often examines acts of protest and the emotional toll of being an activist.

Despite living in Inglewood since the early 1990s, it was Kwanzaa’s first time participating in the art walk. Kwanzaa and her daughter Imani Nicole, a mixed media artist who was also showing work at Concourse, don’t have a studio space outside their home, but were grateful that the pop-up exhibition gave them the chance to be included.

A work by Michael Massenburg on view this weekend

Over the last decade, the primarily Black and Latino city of Inglewood has experienced an accelerated rate of gentrification that has brought more artists to the neighborhood. Glimpses of this changing world could be seen in Michael Cormier’s series of paintings, Angelinos. In one piece, “Superbowl LVI” (2022), four impressionistic football fans head to the city’s new crown jewel, SoFi Stadium, the controversial $4.9 billion home of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers.

“Inglewood Open Studios’s mission is to support local artists and art activities by building a diverse, inclusive and resilient community,” said Renée Fox, a co-founder of IOS. “The work we are doing is in spite of the problem of gentrification, and meant to create support for a lasting community.”

Michael Massenburg, who has spent most of his life in South Los Angeles, says artists are coming to Inglewood because “they found a place that was affordable, they loved the community, and they respect the community.”

It was a treat to see that Massenburg, a local legend, had opened his doors to the public. His artworks, which tell stories of Los Angeles’s Black history, can be found along the platform of the Expo line’s Farmdale station and at Inglewood Public Library. At the Beacon Arts Building, Massenburg showed new paintings that will debut at his solo exhibition at Los Angeles City College in late November. They are based on his travels to Dakar and Colombia, where Massenburg has hoped to trace his family’s ancestry.

Jesus Max Ferrandez’s oil on linen paintings

Zeal Harris is another Inglewood artist exploring her roots, though she does so by blending history with speculative fiction. Her painting on polypropylene fabric, “Pantheon of Akatas: The Ship” (2017) depicts the fate of survivors from a sunken slave spaceship. Harris bases these futuristic stories on the real oral histories she collects from visiting Maroon communities, descendants of people who escaped enslavement.

Other highlights of the artwalk included Gay Summer Rick’s ethereal paintings of Los Angeles International Airport, known as LAX. She uses palette knives to scrape away dark, blue paint to reveal her pink undercoat, which creates the warm, glowing lights on the tarmac. Jesus Max Ferrandez works with oil on linen to build surreal desert landscapes, where thick patches of cactus are interrupted by silly, chattering toy teeth. And Angie Crabtree, pulling from her jeweler husband’s expertise, paints enormous portraits of rare gems. Crabtree had the only digital work on display at open studios, where her gem paintings, now sprouting legs and Doc Martens, strut down Rodeo Drive and other posh Los Angeles landmarks.

“The art community is growing, and I think that’s great,” Kwanzaa said. “I think more awareness is coming.”

Zeal Harris, “Un Hijo Por Otro (One Son for Another)”
Work by Melanie Newcombe on view during Inglewood’s “Art Walk”
Angie Crabtree’s enormous paintings of gems

Editor’s note 11/15/22 6pm EST: This story has been updated with a quote from Renée Fox.

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