My “Arts & Entertainment” and “Mind & Body” contributions to this year’s LA Weekly picks. The gist: SFV grassroots arts, boozy yoga & epic spin class playlists.
If you virtually cruise down Van Nuys Boulevard in Pacoima on Google Maps, you’ll see a few hand-painted storefronts but mostly blank façades. That was Pacoima back in 2011. Since then, the town’s main drag has flowered with new fine-art murals, earning the moniker "Mural Mile" and attracting throngs of walking and biking tours. Artist Levi Ponce has mapped out the 20-plus old and new murals. They include his own Born in East Valley, featuring Cheech Marin against smokestacks and a 1959 Impala lowrider, and Pacoima Art Revolution, a stunning re-creation of the Mona Lisa as a Mexican warrior. Plus there’s Rah Azul and Kristy Sandoval’s Mi Vida, Mi Cultura, a brightly colored tableau of birds, bicyclists and books on race theory; and Sandoval’s Assata Shakur, Freedom Fighter, celebrating the town’s African-American population. For such a concentration of public art, it’s well worth the drive up the 5. —Jessica Langlois
Van Nuys Boulevard between Arleta Avenue & Herrick Avenue, Pacoima, 91331. muralmile.org.
Arts organizer Addy Gonzalez and photographer Erin Stone started 11:11 A Creative Collective in 2009 after looking around a Hollywood gallery opening and realizing everyone there — attendees, artists, musicians — was from the Valley. Since then, the collective has been the nexus of an artistic groundswell in the San Fernando Valley. Currently housed in a lofty Tarzana gallery space, its monthly group shows have explored public art, pop surrealism and light and motion. A recent exhibition co-curated by downtown’s Cannibal Flower drew gallery prowlers upstream (north on the 405) to see emerging Valley artists alongside their fellow Los Angeles County contemporaries. But 11:11 is committed to flooding the Valley with art beyond its gallery walls — it has organized art walks in Canoga Park and Topanga and brought murals to North Hollywood and Reseda through the “Fill in the Blank Project,” which connects local muralists with business owners. Oh yeah, and Mayor Garcetti has Instagrammed them. —Jessica Langlois
18640 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana, 91356. (818) 925-5993, 1111acc.org.
(photo courtesy of Valley Print Studio)
Housed in a trellis-lined converted garage at the end of a residential cul-de-sac in Woodland Hills, Valley Print Studio is introducing a new culture of printing workshops to the San Fernando Valley. Recent Cal State Northridge graduate Miles Lewis, son of chamber musician Paula Hochhalter and actor Geoffrey Lewis, founded the studio with Zeina Baltagi in 2013. Lewis is tapping into the Angeleno tradition of residential arts spaces and giving community members access to intaglio presses, letterpresses and screen printing and paper-making equipment, so that they don’t have to drive over the hill or pay for a course at an atelier or university. A partner of the creative collective 11:11, the studio offers three-hour workshops on specialized practices such as Coptic bookbinding and cyanotype photography for about 30 bucks and just hosted its first artist-in-residence from Chicago. Not bad for a backyard operation. —Jessica Langlois
5210 Collier Place, Woodland Hills, 91364. (818) 390-2215, valleyprintstudio.com.
Whether you’re choosing to fuel your practice with the promise of a cold pint at the hour’s end or would rather down a draft before class to loosen up your sun salutations, no one’s judging. Bends & Booze, a free class every Sunday morning from 11 a.m. to noon at Golden Road Brewing, is about not taking life too seriously. Sponsored by Jewel City Yoga, the all-levels vinyasa flow class stretches out on a shady square of Astroturf just past the giant Jenga in the patio of family-friendly Golden Road Brewing. The crowd is small and congenial — more yoga-curious newcomers than limber handstand impresarios. Instructor Cassie Cherney keeps it light, cracking hangover jokes while demonstrating variations on challenging poses and sticking around to hang out after class. There’s no better reward for that chaturanga than sharing a pitcher of Kolsch and a serving of sweet potato tater tots post-savasana. —Jessica Langlois
Joe Wolf, a massage therapist and nursing student by day, fills the Hollywood Wilshire YMCA's spin studio Tuesday through Thursday evenings with a crowd ready for a fast, fun and absolutely grueling workout. When he's not making the rounds to personally pump up participants, he seems to channel Andre the Giant's Dread Pirate Roberts from his bike, tracing his finger around the room and challenging the class to “Add more!” in a deep bellow (more resistance, that is). The workout is simple, no gimmicks and little chatter, just steady climbing or quick pedaling to an eclectic playlist — epic heartland rock, swampy industrial trip-hop, classic soul and funk, Top 40 R&B and electro-pop. Even gritty grunge ballads. Whether it's Joan Jett's “Bad Reputation” or Journey's “Don't Stop Believing,” the right song always hits the speakers just as the crowd is wilting, and the hour simply speeds by. —Jessica Langlois
1553 Schrader Blvd., Hlywd., 90028. (323) 467-4161, ymcala.org/hollywood.