In partnership with Dunn-Edwards, the new face of Art Share L.A. has been unveiled to Angelenos. The exterior mural, created by Danish urban artist Mikael B. makes the walls of Art Share L.A. once again an emblematic part of the Los Angeles architectural landscape.
Art Share L.A. is a creative environment for artists to reside, develop, perform, and exhibit. It inspires
artists and provides connections to the community for shared benefits in the 28,000-square-foot facility. The top floor consists of 30 affordable live/work lofts for artists, while the bottom floor is a community-programmed facility that is home to a theater, art galleries, art and ceramic studios, classrooms, and an office. Cheyanne Sauter, executive director of Art Share L.A., provides visibility for the arts and preserves and promotes Los Angeles’ cultural and heritage.
Using improved performance EVERSHIELD® as the base coat to highlight the work of Mikael B., the building altered this block of the Arts District, an area that continues to see marked improvements and has become a go-to hotspot for locals.
As part of the transformation, we recently sat down with Mikael B and Sauter to talk about the transformation.
Artist Mikael B.
Did you know about Art Share before being chosen to do the project?
I knew Art Share very well. One of my first gigs here in LA was a live painting event at Art Share about three years ago. I was in love with what the building stood for — helping artists. There’s so much good stuff going on in the heart of the Arts District. I saw the work on the exterior and thought how cool it was. I was new to L.A. and everything was big and crazy so I was honored I could contribute my art with the live paint event.
How did you feel when you found out you were chosen to be the artist to do the mural?
It was quite a long time from when I presented my idea to the board and committee members, maybe eight or nine months ago. It was a dream come true. I’m extremely honored and thankful and super excited.
What was your first reaction when you found out?
I was like, “Hell yeah!” and "I’m going out tonight!" Through the way I work and the art that I create, I believe anything is possible. I’m creating this infinite universe where you can forget about worries and negative thoughts — and enjoy what is happening right here and being present. I’m trying to express that in my art but it’s also a notion toward the way I live my life. When I moved to L.A. I felt I was set free — a potential was unleashed. I felt I was more myself and I think that’s why things happened so fast here.
What inspirations did you pull from to get the idea for the mural?
I wanted to somehow create artwork that would make the building disappear into the sky. I wanted it to be lighter and demonstrate the different techniques and elements. I wanted to show the story of reaching for
the sky and that anything is possible, constantly set higher goals to keep momentum. Mix warm and cold, sharp and soft, dark and light, as well as express feelings, experiences and thoughts in a way for people to see their own story and hopefully relate.
How much does the Downtown LA community and neighborhood influence you?
I don’t come downtown often, but when I do I love it. The whole Arts District is where I got my first projects. I just see that the best artists are down here, and to be part of it is amazing. I have deep respect for
L.A. artists over here, and they also show that L.A. has so much to offer. Where I come from it’s street art, urban and graffiti. [The art] is more mature over here and you can see it driving around Downtown. The whole downtown area has this atmosphere and vibe. It’s a different part of L.A.
Do you think about how people will react to the mural?
I’m not thinking about how I should use these colors that people will like. It wouldn’t get me to where I am today. It’s about passion and expressing myself in a genuine and sincere way. But, of course, I’m happy to
hear if people love it, and getting good feedback fuels the fire.
Cheyanne Sauter, Executive Director for Art Share L.A., Interview
Can you give a little background on the mural project?
Art Share has owned our building for 20 years. For the first 15 years, it was here to do a lot of different things such as being a safe-haven for the neighborhood and a place for at-risk youth to get access to arts education. We created 30 lofts for artists to live here and have access to an affordable space so they could start developing their craft and make a living out of their artwork. This building means a lot to the Arts District, to L.A. and to the arts community.
Art Share has become a haven for artists to explore their craft and explore whether this arts field is a viable career option. We have a lot of different programming to support artists in different phases of their
career. We’ve become this dynamic entity — we’re new and fresh — responding to the needs of the community as its happening.
The purpose for this mural is not about out with the old and in with the new. It’s a way of responding to the growth of Art Share. A black building comes with a lot of challenges — it absorbs heat, the community has seen a lot of murals leave and not come back. They’ve also seen a lot of new murals come to the neighborhood so we wanted to be a part of that shift, as well.
What made Mikael the right artist for this mural?
We kept gravitating to Mikael’s work because of the explosive nature of it, the dynamic concentration of shapes and ideas — as well as that outward, cataclysmic ability he has as his focal point but then it becomes ethereal. It really lends itself to our vision and mission to give artists access to the space to carbonize their dream and then see if it can explode bigger than they are and this dreamlike ability. When you look at Mikael’s work, there are definitely focal points in his angular shapes and his 3-D figures but then it becomes this dreamlike moment. He brings sky into it, and Earth into it and he brings the ability for people to see what they want to see. We wanted a non-narrative, non-abstract piece, and we wanted to be able to look at a piece over and over again and see the same thing but dream a different dream, which is why Mikael fit.
What are you most excited about for this project for Art Share and the community?
It’s been really exciting to see the different entities come together to support Art Share — building relationships throughout the years and calling on them. Having Dunn-Edwards as a supporter was a huge piece that we needed to lock in. Montana Cans recently came in as a sponsor for Mikael’s spray work, and then the city of L.A. and Department of Cultural Affairs lending their support to the project has been integral. It’s been fun to watch all the pieces come together in this beautiful tile work of mosaic logistical insanity!
It's so hard to talk about; it’s very emotional to say good-bye to a mural that we’ve been known for five to six years and have this new look. It’s been an emotional process.
Has it surprised you?
Yes, it’s almost like washing away sins or washing away the past in a way. It was very cathartic to watch it go— and it’s not like shaving a beard and it will grow back. It’s gone and there’s some finality to it that really moved me in ways I didn’t think. And I don’t want to say good-bye to the past because where Art Share has come and all the people that have given their life and soul to this building are so important and we can’t negate that. I hope that Art Share’s name becomes relevant again or maintains the same weight that it has throughout the years. It helps us get talked about again and gives the building another reason to be in people’s mouths.
All images and video courtesy Mikael B Design and Art Share