On Echo Park Avenue is a mural Aaron Donovan painted in homage to a man across the street who has bunnies, chickens and a pony—and at one time, a cow—in his sprawling yard just steps from Sunset Boulevard. Entitled “Chicken Corner,” the huge, colorful mural announces a new presence in the neighborhood: a triple-threat response to the often snobby West Side art world. The opening of three new galleries this year, all dedicated to providing a venue to emerging artist who have been shunned by the more conservative art machine, promise to transform this vibrant working-class community with artistic energy.
Artist/Millie’s waiter Aaron Donovan and Pac Bell operator/Spaceland doorgirl Patricia Castillo saw a need—an unpretentious place where artist could show—and a space—a turn of the century storefront in need of restoration. One sold ’64 Galaxie station wagon and countless tips later, Delirium Tremens was born. To settle an argument on the name, Donovan and Castillo chose one by a blind opening of the dictionary (a method used by countless bands in the same neighborhood). And yet Delirium Tremens—the formal name for the DT’s, or the shakes and hallucinatory visions drunks suffer upon withdrawals—fits perfectly with the duo’s vision of aesthetic provocation.
I really like art that people love or hate—nothing lukewarm,” says Donovan, whose hard luck getting his own show led him to open his own space. “I was taking my slides around, kind of frightened, and the galleries were so pretentious. They’d glance at the slides, look you over, look at their watch, and boom! You’re outta there.” An Art Center College of Design graduate, Donovan realized that many of his former schoolmates were likely undergoing the same experience.
He finally got a break last May when Ojala Fine Art, located next to the DTs space, opened its doors and gave him a show.
“There’s a lot of talent, but no venues,” says Jesus Sanchez, the proprietor of Ojala. Sensing a wealth of untapped talent in Echo Park, Silver Lake and Chinatown, Sanchez is committed to showing work for those communities. And so is Fototeka, a photography gallery that is set to open nearby before the end of the year.
“We want to bring people in, not be a snobby presence,” says Robin Blackman, one of three people launching Fototeka. As for Delirium Tremens’ niche in this mini art zone, the concept is to explore the fine line between illustration and fine art. “Think brain damage,” Donovan suggests.
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The most notable feature of the intersection of Echo Park and
Morton avenues used to be Magic Gas station. Now, the same area is emerging as the neighborhood’s gallery row. By late September, three galleries are expected to be open in side-by-side store fronts on Echo Park Avenue.