As a grassroots arts organization, the Arroyo Arts Collective has established a record of service to northeast Los Angeles which is distinctive both in its creative approach to community activities and in its appreciation for the artistic heritage of the Arroyo area. Here is a bit of what the Collective is all about:


The Arroyo Arts Collective was established in 1989 as a community organization of artists, writers and performers who live and work in Northeast Los Angeles, including the neighborhoods of Highland Park, Mt. Washington, Montecito Heights, Cypress Park, Lincoln Heights and Eagle Rock. Historically rich in tradition, the area bordering the Arroyo Seco was Los Angeles’ first cultural center at the beginning of the 20th century and the site of the Southwest Museum, the city’s first. A large concentration of artists continue to reside in northeast Los Angeles in some of the city’s most thoroughly multicultural and richly diverse neighborhoods.


The mission of the Arroyo Arts Collective is to develop and present creative events that educate and expand the audience for culture while creating an awareness of the creative vitality which exists in northeast Los Angeles. Goals — During its existence, the Collective has sponsored groundbreaking community exhibitions, concerts, performances, poetry readings, lectures, studio tours and cultural programs. It publishes and distributes 1200 copies of its bi-monthly newsletter in the community and offers scholarships to high school art students. Through informed neighborhood involvement and innovative activities, the goal of the Collective is to address the cultural needs of the area, link the creative community with the neighborhood at large, and make art available to the underserved audience of northeast Los Angeles.


Since 1993, the Collective has organized an annual fall Discovery Tour of artists’ studios and homes in the area. In 2001, the Tour featured the work of over 60 artists and artisans and a map of local cafés and eateries which lend color to the neighborhood. Tours have been co-sponsored with the Southern California Historical Society, the Highland Park Heritage Trust, the Audubon Society and other community groups.

The Collective also has mounted ten annual juried exhibitions for member artists at venues including Los Angeles Community College, the Weingart Galleries at Occidental College, Luckman Gallery at Cal State LA, El Pueblo Gallery on Olvera Street, historic Judson stained glass studios and Avenue 50 Studio. Exhibitions have incorporated multicultural performances, music and poetry readings by other neighborhood artists. Members of the Collective have curated exhibitions in local libraries, malls, restaurants, community centers and local galleries in an effort to reach out to the public. Professional artists have collaborated with local youth to produce neighborhood murals and public improvements.

The Collective has produced four ambitious installation events since 1996. Without Alarm: Public and Private Security I and II took place on the site of the former Los Angeles Jail at Lincoln Heights. During the run of the installation, second floor jail cells in this historic building were taken over by artists exploring social themes relating to violent crime, from the global to the personal in focus. River Alchemy and River Visions, site-specific installation events with environmental themes, took place along a 2 1/2-mile stretch of the Los Angeles River near Atwater Village and brought a thousand people to the River in 2000 and again in 2002. In conjunction with Re-Envisioning the Los Angeles River, a year-long project sponsored by Occidental College and Friends of the LA River, their purpose was to provide increased public awareness of the River’s importance to the city’s social and natural environment. Collective artists envisioned the possibilities of a revitalized Los Angeles River by creating a string of installations and performance venues along its banks.

In addition to its activities in support of the visual arts, the Collective sponsors Poetry in the Windows, a biennial poetry competition open to Southern California poets. Winning poems are mounted as posters with texts in English and in translation into another of the many languages spoken in the neighborhood, then displayed in merchants’ windows along Figueroa Street, the central business district of Highland Park.


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