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Arroyo Arts Collective

About the AAC

As a grassroots arts organization, the Arroyo Arts Collective has established a record of service to northeast Los Angeles that 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 continues 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 that exists in northeast Los Angeles.


By encouraging neighborhood involvement in the arts and presenting innovative art-driven activities and exhibitions, 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.


During its existence, the Collective has sponsored groundbreaking community exhibitions, concerts, performances, poetry readings, lectures, workshops, studio tours and cultural programs. It publishes and distributes 1200 copies of its newsletter in the community and circulates an email art events listing. The Collective has also mentored student participants in community projects and annually offers scholarships to high school art students.

Since 1993 the Collective has organized an annual Discovery Tour of artists’ studios and homes on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Tours have been co-sponsored with the Southern California Historical Society, the Highland Park Heritage Trust, the Audubon Society and other community groups and feature the work of well over 100 artist participants.

The Collective has produced a series of ambitious site-specific 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 2002. In conjunction with Re-Envisioning the Los Angeles River, a yearlong project sponsored by Occidental College and Friends of the LA River, Collective artists created a string of imaginative installations and performance venues along its banks. During 2007, the Collective sponsored the BID (Business Improvisation District) Show, pairing site-specific installation artists with local merchants, playfully commenting on the relationship between art and commerce. Working with the Audubon Center during the spring of 2008, the Collective staged Zone 5 in the City: Art Sustaining Nature, a project exploring the theme of sustainability that featured artist installations constructed in the natural habitat of Debs Park.

The Acorn Gallery, an exhibition space run by the Collective between 2002 and 2008, hosted monthly exhibitions featuring varied and innovative work by local artists and curators. The Acorn became a focus of social and creative activity in Highland Park, offering open exhibition opportunities and supporting over 40 shows.

The Collective has also mounted 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, the historic Judson stained glass studios, Avenue 50 Studio, and Future Studio Gallery. 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.

In addition to its activities in support of the visual arts, the Collective has sponsored Poetry in the Windows, a series of poetry competitions 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 in Highland Park. During the spring of 2007, Puppets, Puppets, Puppets!, a festival of performances in cutting-edge puppet theater, energized workshop and performance spaces around Highland Park for several months. The festival, organized by the Collective, showcased a range of contemporary approaches to puppetry that appealed both to families and to fans of cutting-edge performance art.