Sunday, September 27, 2009

What Do Cute Kittens And the LA Times Story - Death on the Rails - Have in Common?

This weekend's Los Angeles Times story - Death on the Rails - begins with the statistics that have long proven how riding the Metrolink - and in particular driving near it - may be hazardous to your health. The story's main writer, Doug Smith, also re-explains the well known political reasons why the agency that runs the Metrolink has been unable to internally fix its problems.

But Smith - and his team of writer Nathan Olivares-Giles, researcher Maloy Moore and data analyst Sandra Poindexter - then go beyond what we already know to give a detailed proposal about how the Metrolink system can be made safer in several specific ways - and in relatively short periods of time compared to the major long term needed improvements. The article then tackles why this has not been done in the past - and then lists the external political obstacles that have to be cleared to fix the system.

And, in this city, the Los Angeles Times is increasingly only place where this kind of intensive research and reporting and solution finding is done on a consistent basis and on a wide range of issues.

Unfortunately, the LA Times and all other print media now face an increasingly on-line future in which the expensive content the public needs to be protected from harm is often not the content that drives the necessary number of page views to keep those institutions alive.

So the the next time local critics complain about the Los Angeles Times and its on-line photo albums of cute kittens - they should remember that one day some particularly cute kitten might pay for the story that will save their lives.

Click the lnk above for the full story or you can read below the story's opening:,0,6617016,print.story

Death on the rails in L.A.
An analysis of crash data suggests that Metrolink could significantly reduce accidents by targeting a few particularly dangerous crossings.

By Doug Smith

September 27, 2009

Although Metrolink safety lapses drew national attention last year when 25 people were killed in a head-on collision with a freight train, many more have died from commuter trains hitting automobiles and pedestrians.

Over the 15 years leading up to the deadly crash in Chatsworth, accidents involving trains running on Metrolink's system killed 218 other people, according to a detailed examination of accident records by The Times. Through September 2008, the number killed on the Metrolink commuter rail system was 244. Hundreds more people sustained nonfatal injuries.

Critics say Metrolink leaders have not paid enough attention to safety and have done little to upgrade dangerous intersections where streets cross the tracks. In particular, the public railway has failed to adopt the sorts of safety systems and improvements developed and widely used by its sister agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Some of the clearest examples are in the San Fernando Valley, which includes two of Metrolink's most dangerous crossings -- at Buena Vista Street in Burbank and Sunland Boulevard in Sun Valley.

For the thousands of motorists who pass through it every day, the rail crossing at Buena Vista and San Fernando Boulevard can be a hair-raising passage. The intersection is a maze of sharp turns and confusing signals that require drivers to move with split-second timing.

Twice in recent years, that timing has gone fatally wrong just as a train was bearing down fast, leading to the deaths of motorists.

On Jan. 6, 2003, Jacek "Jack" Wysocki rolled his Ford truck into the path of a Metrolink train traveling 79 mph. The 63-year-old driver was killed along with one train passenger; two train cars derailed and flipped, injuring 20 other Metrolink riders.

Exactly three years later, 76-year-old Maureen Osborn was killed after turning in front of a Metrolink commuter going 75 mph. Osborn's car was dragged a third of a mile before the train could stop.

Both tragedies could have been predicted. Buena Vista and similar Metrolink intersections had all seen previous accidents and near-collisions.

Metrolink took no responsibility

They also could have been prevented. But if any Metrolink official saw trouble coming, records show no evidence of action. After each accident, leaders of the regional rail system took no responsibility, choosing instead to invoke a standard industry convention: They blamed the deaths on motorists who "tried to beat the train."

Even after a blistering 2003 critique of the crossing's design and signal system by the National Transportation Safety Board, nothing was done to correct Buena Vista's flaws. Facing no legal obligation to follow federal recommendations, Metrolink, Burbank authorities and the California Public Utilities Commission -- the state agency responsible for train safety -- made only minor refinements.

One expert says the history behind the Buena Vista-San Fernando crossing reveals a glaring flaw in the mind-set of Metrolink leaders: Because they have focused more on building ridership than on improving safety, even hazards that could have been eliminated or sharply reduced have been allowed to remain. Only after the horrific Chatsworth crash did Metrolink upgrade the status of its safety unit so that it reported directly to chief executive David R. Solow.

"I call it the culture of denial and deflection," said Najmedin Meshkati, a professor of engineering at USC whose studies of human factors in accidents have led him to become a vocal critic of Metrolink.

That culture also stands in stark contrast to what is practiced by the MTA, the largest of five rail agencies that contribute funds to Metrolink.

That agency, based only blocks from Metrolink's Los Angeles office, also had a record of numerous accidents and deaths after initiating its Blue Line light-rail service between downtown and Long Beach in 1990. Since then, the MTA's safety section has examined the causes and retrofitted many of the worst crossings with systems to prevent accidents. As a result, the Blue Line accident rate has dropped significantly.

And, again, the rest of the story is at this link:,0,6617016,print.story

Friday, September 25, 2009

As The Neon Museum Leaves Downtown.... It's Time To Ask - Why?,0,973989.story

The story of why the Neon Museum - after 28 years - is leaving Downtown - for a second time (its current display at City Walk being its first defection) is long and complicated and it starts long before I was involved in the politics of Downtown.

I do recall, though, when its first small space in the Arts District in 1981 - around the corner from Joel Bloom's store, another lost landmark, much later opened in 1994.

I also remember when it was supposed to be the major public arts component of what later became LA Live – which instead became the Grammy Museum - but I don't recall how that came to be.

And by the time I started talking with the Museum of Neon Art – MONA - in the late 1990's, the clock was ticking on their then CRA subsidized space in South Park. It was clear then that with no new space to show potential donors or potential new board members - it would be impossible for MONA to raise the money needed to rent or buy a new space - or for them get further public grants to sustain themselves.

It also seemed clear, at least to me, that arts non-profits would soon need to consider developing earned income projects or joint ventures to guarantee their long term financial sustainability.

And this was before anyone realized local and regional governments will soon have the single largest part of their tax revenues going into the pensions and health benefits for retired workers who no longer work for the government, leaving less and less money for anything else.

So my idea was to find a large space, preferably underground or on the upper floors of an old building to keep the rents cheap - where there could be multiple food and beverage tenants sub-letting from the Neon Museum.

Those tenants would then each have their spaces displaying parts of the collection as their decor - and they would pay a higher than normal rent in exchange for those displays. The museum would then be able to exhibit those pieces at no cost to MONA and they would be viewable at night when they would normally not be seen – and there would a steady cash flow from those tenants.

But – best of all – the tenant’s build-outs would hopefully include all the seismic requirements, health and safety requirements and the entire HVAC infrastructure for the entire space.

Restaurants, lounges, bars, or music venues were the possible uses and their nighttime urban atmosphere would work perfectly with the neon.

Then, the museum itself, would have - besides its workshops and smaller display areas - one large and one or two smaller display rooms where - after the museum was closed – those spaces could be rented out as event spaces. This would bring in even more revenue and - again - allow the neon to be seen at night when the museum would normally be closed.

And even when I very conservatively ran the numbers - it seemed feasible that with the prices for underground spaces I was quoted - and how much the new venues - even after build-outs would pay - the museum should be at the very worst – totally rent-free – and that its net income would increase over the years as they amortized the costs.

I then found what I felt was the perfect space for the museum, introduced them to the owners and an agreement to agree was reached and MONA started to develop a business plan on how to do this project.

But soon after, the person who pushed the deal through at the company was hired away by another company, but the deal remained intact. Then the building was sold – and I was told the deal was, again, still on.

I then went on to other projects and assumed no news was good news. And it was only when I checked in about a year later to get a progress report did I discover - the deal had died, though I could never find out… why.

So I - and other people - tried again to find another Downtown home for MONA – as increasingly numbers of offers came from all over the country offering MONA free spaces. But there seemed to be a disconnect between what the Neon Museum was able to find - and afford - and what the City felt was the appropriate place for them to be. And with no new home in hand – MONA was unable to raise any funds themselves, so no deal could be made.

And the final place I proposed, I still feel can work for a museum of some kind in the longer term, but the amount of work it takes to make one of these deals happen.... makes doing them a full time job and I already have twenty other full time – and all 100% pro-bono - jobs.

So when the City displayed no interest in even looking at the space, I moved on.
And so now the Neon Museum appears to be all but gone from Downtown.

But that does not mean this has to be the end of the love story between MONA and Downtown. Unlike the lovers in the 500 Days of Summer, a happy ever after ending for us is still possible.

After all, the Neon Museum has once before abandoned us for City Walk - but still returned home – even while they faithfully retaining their presence at City Walk.

The good news/bad news for neon lovers is that as long as old buildings are torn down - there will be an endless supply of neon needing to be saved. So even if Glendale has the main museum - that does not stop MONA from having a branch in Downtown, once we finally get our act together.

And an auxiliary display only space Downtown would help the Glendale Neon Museum space as it would feed people from our much larger tourist base to the Glendale Museum.

But in order for us to do this – and other major cultural projects - we need to rethink how the City works with arts organizations - and how we are going to house our dozens of homeless museums of all kinds. Museums are important economic development engines and they are essential to our long term ability to attract tourists to Los Angeles.

The first step is for the CRA and other government agencies – and major foundations who are interested in helping non-profits become financially self-sustainable – to create a privately run non-profit corporation to do long term leases of potential future arts spaces.

Or - in today’s' depressed property market – give the corporation the ability buy large warehouses, or condo off the upper floors of buildings on Broadway - or condo off the basements of buildings – for use by arts organizations.

The non-profit corporation would then either do straight sub-leases to the arts groups or do some partial build outs first and then do the sub-leases. This will give the arts groups, museums and other cultural groups the benefit of the far lower rates of the master lease – plus lower combined infrastructure construction costs - as opposed to what it would cost an arts group to lease a smaller already subdivided and built out space.

And if for-profit entities are also given leases within the complex, their rents would help further lower the arts spaces rents – without any need for outside subsidies.

Additionally, each arts organization should be given an opportunity to develop their own earned income revenue streams – when possible – within their spaces. Lastly, all commercial tenants would also be chosen on the basis of their bringing synergistic audiences to the overall space.

However, if the corporation buys the buildings, then it can - over time -sell individual spaces to the arts groups. And if there are profit making businesses in the overall complex – the non-profits can collectively own those spaces and the rents from those spaces could help cover the costs of maintaining the entire building.

To give just one example of how this might work – say the Museum of California Design is given the opportunity to occupy such a complex – think of all the design-oriented retailers who would want to rent or own spaces next to that museum?

And then what better place would there be for a permanent home for the Architecture & Design Museum? Or LATDA - the Los Angeles Toy, Doll and Amusements Museum? Or a Fashion Museum? Or any other museum that is about… design?

So to do all this, the Corporation could buy a huge warehouse complex and give the spaces rent free to help these museums get started while at the same time leasing out other spaces synergistic uses who would want the proximity to both the museums and the other destination-type retailers. This would then cover the museum's rent.

And even before then, the Corporation can rent out the empty spaces for warehousing, if need be – and in their second phase, they can attract events and filming – which would become increasingly easier as the museums themselves start to install.

And this business plan has worked in the past.

During all this, business plans will be then developed and redeveloped on how each museum can either do a long term lease – or purchase of all or parts of the complex. And if one or more museums leave for another space – another new museum will have an already built out space ready to start the whole process all over again.

Additionally, parts of the project could even include future residential development to further help subsidize the overall project.

This way, these museums can get an initial space for very little money – while having a long term plan to increase their size and eventually buy the building – all of which will make it far easier for them to raise funds.

And by buying properties a bit off the beaten track to get affordable spaces, the design oriented retailers will also initially get very affordable rents themselves – while also still having the benefits of built-in audiences from the multiple synergistic retailers – and the growing complex of design museums.

But more on all this later.

Now it's time to get back to the story of the Neon Museum, and below is the latest news from the LA Times:

L.A.'s Museum of Neon Art is glowing, glowing, gone

The museum, which has been in downtown since 1981, is moving to larger quarters across from Americana at Brand in Glendale. The announcement has disappointed many downtown boosters.

By Cara Mia DiMassa

September 25, 2009

The Museum of Neon Art opened its doors in downtown Los Angeles in 1981 -- long before the city center was fashionable. For much of this time, the museum has moved around the area, looking for a spot large enough to show off its uniquely Southern California collection.

At its current location on 4th Street in the Old Bank district, visitors to the museum have a tendency to look befuddled after viewing the 20 pieces of neon and wonder where some of the more iconic pieces are located. The Grauman's Chinese Theatre dragon? The old Union 76 ball?

"People ask, 'Where's the Brown Derby?' " said Kim Koga, the museum's director, referring to the neon sign that once stood atop one of the city's most famous dining establishments and is now in the museum's permanent collection. "We couldn't get it in the door here."

Now, the museum has found the space it wants -- in Glendale. And many who live and work around the lofts and galleries that grew around the museum are sad to see it go.

The new space, on Brand Boulevard across from Americana at Brand, offers raw square footage as well as a chance to display some pieces on the building's exterior -- all in an area that has been experiencing its own sort of renaissance. No date has been set for the move.

The museum leaves a part of downtown that in the last decade has been transformed from an area of empty office buildings and sagging storefronts to one of L.A.'s most vibrant gallery districts, where thousands converge for the monthly art walk.

"We have this amazing relationship that won't end if they go to Glendale," said Bert Green, founder of the Downtown Art Walk and owner of a gallery at 5th and Main streets, "but I would prefer that they stay in downtown."

The announcement comes at a time when the downtown art scene is struggling, in some ways, with its own success. The Downtown Art Walk, which celebrated its fifth anniversary earlier this month, has grown to a point that some gallery owners and residents say has taken it away from its original purpose.

As many as 10,000 people now crowd downtown's streets one Thursday a month, according to some estimates. Many come to peruse the galleries, but others come to visit the area's bars, restaurants and many of the sidewalk vendors who also migrate to the area for the monthly event.

Green, who handed over the reins of the walk earlier this year, has moved his gallery's opening parties to the day before the event, and closes the gallery at 6 p.m. on art walk nights. He was getting 2,500 visitors to the small gallery at 5th and Main between 7 and 9 p.m.

"It was costing me hundreds of dollars to stay open," he said, mostly because of extra staff needed to manage the crowds, "and no one was buying anything."

Downtown boosters say the recession has hit downtown less than other artistic neighborhoods such as Culver City or Venice. While one gallery, the nonprofit Pharmaka, recently lost its space at 5th and Main, others are opening on upper floors, which lack walk-in foot traffic but sometimes offer more space and cheaper rent.

Brady Westwater, a longtime downtown activist, said that he was sad to see the neon museum leave, especially because it had hung on for so long when downtown's fortunes were on the decline. "We've now got Disney Hall, Gallery Row, Art Walk, SCI-Arc -- all of these things that have come in and are now institutions," Westwater said. "It's a tragedy that just as the theaters of Broadway are about to have their lights turned on again, the lights of the neon museum will be turned off downtown."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Another Reason Why The Downtown Street Car Will Be a Success!

This Sunday's New York Times evaluates the economic impact of Phoenix's new light rail system which is based upon the same economic development model as the system being built in Downtown Los Angeles.

Their rail line connects Phoenix's different downtown districts in the way ours will link South Park's Staples Arena, Grammy Museum, LA Live and Convention Center to the almost twenty theaters in the extended Broadway theater district - and to Historic Downtown's Gallery Row, Fashion Walk and bars and restaurants before it finally connects with Bunker Hill's Music Center, MOCA, Disney Hall and Grand Avenue Project and Park.

And to the surprise of many in Phoenix, their new light rail has created a local economic boom while the rest of the city continues in a serious economic decline. The good news for LA is that riders in Phoenix are flocking to a system that has a lot fewer attractions along it than we have and it does so in a Downtown with far less density, considerably fewer tourists, a fraction of the residents and comparatively fewer potential riders of ever kind compared to Downtown LA.

Phoenix also does not have our growing concentration of high rise offices and high rise residential buildings all along their line that will attract far more rush hour commuters to LA's system - nor does it have a connection to a growing regional rail sysem.

The Phoenix light rail design is also a little less user friendly than LA's streetcar model which allows you step right from the curb into the car. The far shorter construction method of our model also means local businesses will not have to suffer through an extended construction period as they did in Phoenix (and have done in past traditional light rail projects in LA) - to reap all the economic benefits.

And the success of the Phoenix system increasingly makes it even more certain Councilman Jose Huizar's decision to champion this project will be one of the few economic development projects in Los Angeles in years to create substantial numbers of jobs awhile also raising tax revenues, benefiting both the residents and tax payers of Los Angeles.

And at a time too many economic development projects in LA - and particularly in Downtown - are still largely designed to provide high paying jobs for politically connected consultants and contractors, hopefully the success of this project - and the hoped for success of the overall Bringing Back Broadway Project - will demonstrate that with the right leadership, our city can accomplish the types of genuine economic development projects every city but LA seems to be able to regularly initiate and complete.

September 20, 2009
In Phoenix, Weekend Users Make Light Rail a Success

PHOENIX — Among the many detractors — and they were multitudinous — who thought a light rail line in this sprawling city would be a riderless $1 billion failure was Starlee Rhoades, the spokeswoman for the Goldwater Institute, a vocal critic of the rail’s expense. “I’ve taken it,” Ms. Rhoades said, slightly sheepishly. “It’s useful.”

She and her colleagues still think the rail is oversubsidized, but in terms of predictions of failure, she said, “We don’t dwell.”

The light rail here, which opened in December, has been a greater success than its proponents thought it would be, but not quite the way they envisioned. Unlike the rest of the country’s public transportation systems, which are used principally by commuters, the 20 miles of light rail here stretching from central Phoenix to Mesa and Tempe is used largely by people going to restaurants, bars, ball games and cultural events downtown.

The rail was projected to attract 26,000 riders per day, but the number is closer to 33,000, boosted in large part by weekend riders. Only 27 percent use the train for work, according to its operator, compared with 60 percent of other public transit users on average nationwide.

In some part thanks to the new system, downtown Phoenix appears to be one of the few bright spots in an otherwise economically pummeled city, which like the rest of Arizona has suffered under the crushing slide of the state’s economy. The state, for years almost totally dependent on growth, has one of the deepest budget deficits in the country.

In the first quarter of 2009, downtown Phoenix saw its revenues increase 13 percent, while the rest of the city saw a fall of 16 percent, according to Eric Johnson, a redevelopment program manager for the city’s Community and Economic Development Department. (Businesses along the line suffered greatly during the many years of construction, it should be noted.)

“It is bringing us new customers who didn’t have time to get in the car and drive out here before,” said Joel Miller, a co-owner of Maizies Cafe and Bistro, which sits right along the rail line.

The gaggle of light rail users — including Arizona State University students, who use a line that connects its Tempe campus with the downtown campus — have given a small part of the city a new, dense connectivity that was more or less unheard of in the city two years ago. Pub crawls along the light rail have become a weekend staple, and restaurants have seen new customers from outside the neighborhood popping in off the line for brunch on the weekends.

“I think the biggest impact of the light rail is less tangible,” said Matt Poolin, owner of Matt’s Big Breakfast, a busy spot along the line, “which is that it really improves the image and perception of Phoenix’s downtown, which, although experiencing a significant renaissance in recent years, still is undergoing many improvements and changes. The light rail, largely because it is so well run and nicely appointed, is something that I think most people are really proud of and feel positive about. It is rare to hear anyone complain, despite all of the controversy.”

The controversy was largely attached to the rail line’s cost — $1.4 billion — and the relatively low ticket price — $1.75 each way, with all-day passes for $3.50 and discounted rates for longer-term passes. In a city with low density, miles of suburban sprawl to the east and west of downtown and a historical lack of passion for public transportation, the rail line, one of the nation’s 36 systems, seemed like a white elephant.

But its development over the last decade coincided with the city’s expansion of the downtown convention center, the rise of the new A.S.U. campus and the booming commercial and residential real estate market that helped fuel the growth of Phoenix, downtown and elsewhere, earlier in the decade. Since 2001, when the tax for the new rail line was approved, there has been about $5 billion in public and private investment — $3.5 billion of it private — around the site of the light rail, the city’s development agency spokesman said.

Valley Metro, the line’s operator, hopes to add 37 miles toward Glendale and northeast Phoenix, breaking ground in 2012 and completing the extensions by 2017.

“We would like to see a financial audit before they expand,” said Ms. Rhoades of the conservative Goldwater Institute, echoing those who have been critical of the expense. “We are also proponents of paying your own way, and we think the light rail remains too subsidized.”

The hooting of an oncoming sleek new train is a sound many in Phoenix are still becoming used to, but it has given the city a distinctly modern feel. “There has been this pent-up demand for downtown Phoenix to grow up,” said Nick Bastian, a real estate agent in the city who has developed a blog devoted to light rail news. “And the light rail has given people an excuse to say let’s go down there and check it out.”

MTA To Shut Down Subway Stations During Rush Hour!

Or at least that's what it seems like they are trying to do.

I can't believe the MTA is only putting in half the turnstyles in the Pershing Square & McArthur Park Stations commuters will need during the rush hour. But the worst of it is - many of those turnstyles are going to be tied up by people exiting - even though they don't need to pay fares. Yes, instead of having separate exits which do not have the ticket taking function - there will not only be too few turnstyles - but those too few turnstyles will be going in two different directions.

And even the Sheriff's officers are openly saying that whoever designed this system is (redacted) and... (redacted) - not to mention (redacted, redacted and redacted) - and that all of us who use the subway are totally (redacted) big time.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Support Iranian Street Artists! Free Event Downtown Tonight! 6 - 9 PM

Subject: TONIGHT!

Join us tonight, Saturday, Sep. 19 from 6-9 pm
A very special Live event at Crewest:

Artists from L.A. will create work LIVE in the spirit of exchange with the artists in FROM THE STREETS OF IRAN.
Participating artists include:
Man One, ABCNT, John Carr, Contra, Karen Fiorito, Amitis Motevalli, O and Petal.

Come and watch some of the best local urban artists at work.

From The Streets Of Iran runs through September 26th @ Crewest

110 Winston St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Four New Boutiques Open Since Last Fashion Walk

Now while all four of these stores - which will be open on tonight's Fashion Walk from 5:30 - 10 PM - have opened in the past month - which comes to about one new store a week - all but one have participated in past Art and/or Fashion Walk events.

First - KAPSOUL - had a sneak preview at last month's first Fashion Walk - and had a line out the door of eager buyers, despite their then limited selection. Now, though, the store is fully stocked

KAPSOUL 6th Street between Main and Spring
Cell 818-693-4180 Contemporary & vintage clothes, sunglasses

Next, 1-Man's Trash has long been located in Downtown Los Angeles but only recently has been an exhibitor at past Art and Fashion Walks. This, then, will be the Fashion Walk debut of their new store which will feature Erik Dixon's one of a kind re-worked vintage pieces for men, women and children. Among those who have worn his line are Usher Raymond, Ellen Degeneres, and Carmen Elektra. Also featured in the store is a carefuly curated selction of vintage clothing.

1-Man's Trash 651 S. Main Street Vintage inspired, re-made vintage And vintage clothing 818-355-1130

Christina Wheeler has also shown at past Downtown Art Walks before taking the plunge and opening her own store. She has been primarily showing her handbags and hats - but has recently returned to her roots as a clothing designer.

Symbiotic Form 651 Main Street
213-631-6971 Vintage inspired woman's hand bags, hats, clothes and jewelry

In contrast, the all vintage store - ZLB - just appeared a couple weeks ago at 7th and Main with a selection of unusual vintage designs culled from the owner's purchases all over the US - and Europe.

ZLB Main and 7th NW Corner on 7th Side of Building Vintage Clothing of every kind and every price

We will have more on each of these stores and their owners shortly - but besides the fact the are few - if any - retail districts where no clothing stores are closing - I suspect that only on Downtown's Fashion Walk are new stores opening on a regular basis.

What Do Vegas Show Girls And Women On Fashion Walk Have In Common?

They all have or have had an opportunity to wear a hat created by Jill Pfieffer. One of the many unique character you will meet on the Downtown Fashion Walk, Jill will be showing some of her one of a kind hats at the Spring Arts Tower at 5th and Spring.

Below is a short bio of a long life:


Jill started her life as an artist early, with private fine art lessons at the age of 7 and started selling portraits at the age of 10. She has pursued her vocation all of her life and spent many years working as a Costume Designer, Milliner, Wardrobe Master and Stylist.

She has worked in Las Vegas for the Luxor Hotel, the Excalibur Hotel, the Sands, the Desert Inn, the Las Vegas Hilton, the Stardust, and Circus Circus, among others, in Reno for Bally’s, in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, creating costumes, headdresses, and other wardrobe for shows such as “Lido de Paris”, “King Arthur’s Tournaments”, “Starlight Express”, “Viva Las Vegas”, “Sid and Marty Kroft’s Comedy Kings”, “Beach Blanket Babylon”, “Splash”, and “Jesus Christ Superstar”.

After settling in Los Angeles, Jill started creating one-of-a-kind cigar box purses and custom hats and sold them in the LA Garment Dist. for 5 years, where people from all over the world bought both the purses & hats.

A life-long educator, as well as an artist, Jill has taught at UCLA, in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, is still teaching millinery and has just started teaching painting.

Alternative Couture In Alternative Art Space At Fashion Walk!

On tonight's Fashion Walk, Crewest - one of the world's leading graffiti galleries - will host Nicole Moan Ceramic Corsets(Ceramic Corsets) and ethercult couture (custom apparel.

Both lines of clothing that look equally at home in an art gallery as they do on the human body. Also on the display in the gallery are examples of Iranian street graffiti. You can see examples at the Crewest website:

And below is an interview with Steve Sattler of the Ether Cult.

Weapons of the Ether Cult
Interview: Steven Sattler
by Nathan Cartwright

Steven Sattler is an Idaho grown, Anarchist prone artistic mega-beast. From dodging the draft by starving himself to challenging skinheads in small towns in his white washed state, he is a true warrior of visual persuasion. He stands for chaos, but has an innate ability to make it all look so good in his mixed media compositions. Recently, I had the privilege to visit his studio and chat about his amazing creations and ideas about a New World Order.

Nathan: Steven, I often say there are two types of artists who thrive in The Hive; the illustrators and the mad scientists. Your work is definitely in the latter category. What influences have led you to the Sattler I know?

Steven: An early realization of the horrific state of adult life led me to art as a means of creating alternate realities. In grade school, comic books and sci-fi led me to the study of the aryan mythos, the possibility of real supermen was intriguing. Then I was introduced to surrealism by a nun who gave me a holy card that was by Dali, (I’m sure that she knew not what poisons she had let loose), eventually the army tried to send me to my death, making me a permanent enemy of the state. Finally zen and Krishnamurti put me on a quest for absolute freedom, something that appealed to my inherent non-conformist bent. My ongoing influences would be surrealism and it’s offshoots, except the current drivel that is pop surrealism, (I’m sure Breton is spinning in his grave), and French academic art and teachings, particularly J.L. Gerome. 200

NC: What are some of the obstacles you faced growing up in (the inland northwest) as an artist?

Steven: In the northwest, if you call yourself an artist you had better be able to paint signs or do horse portraiture or will likely get shot. They don’t hold well to the con game that is modern art. Growing up in a hot rod environment, an artist was the guy who could pinstripe or do flames. My dad’s advice was “you have a good eye for detail, you should be a forger or a counterfeiter”.

NC: Tell me about the Ether Cult.

Steven: Ethercult is an attempt to subvert the capitalist spectacle by using its own means against it. It’s a design collective using art as a weapon to confront the public in unexpected places, through clothing, furniture, graphic design, sounds, etc, anywhere that we can produce unsettling, unsellable, original statements of revolt. A current example would be ethercult couture’s invisible red carpet ensemble, an outfit so offensive it would have to be pixelated from head to toe. Ethercult is attempting to be a community college of pataphysics. A training ground for sedition. Our motto is ” We don’t want your money, your time, or your beliefs. Everything’s perfect, stay as you are.”

NC: How does art and economy tie together with this idea?

Steven: The only way to be avant-garde today is to remove money entirely from the art equation.

NC: Any new secret projects lined up in your mad scientist laboratory?

Steven: The main things would be a chess set reflecting the modern human beast (each piece being life sized mixed media sculptures), a new line for ethercult couture, a piece for next months bee-rotica show at the Hive entitled ” The persecution of Dennis Hopper in the 11th dimension” another anti celebrity rant, and continuing to hone my art skills, the better to realize any inspiration that comes my way.

Downtown Fashion Walk Starts 5:30 Tonight!

Over thirty fashion stores, events and free music open from 5:30 PM - 10 PM tonight along Main, Spring and Broadway between 4th and 7th!

All the details and the full map are at:

With updates at:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Downtown Fashion Walk Final Map and Schedule Now on Website! Thursday Sept. 17th!

Every you want to know about Fashion Walk is either on the website - or on the new Downtown Fashion Walk blog -

Join us between 5:30 PM - 10 PM this Thursday September 17th, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Downtown Fashion Walk Now Has Its Own Blog!

From now on most of the posts about the Downtown Fashion Walk be be appearing on... the Downtown Fashion Walk blog.