Back in December, LA Weekly set out to instill fear in our hearts with an article titled, "Is Downtown LA's Art Scene Already Doomed?" A low blow to pretty much everything we believe in and hope for, the article came in response to the Arts District Hybrid Industrial Ordinance, a piece of City Hall legislation aimed at lifting zoning restrictions on the Arts District. Until now, the whole area has been zoned as industrial. But the City wants to change this in accordance with the area's dizzying shift towards commercial and residential development.
The primary focus of the article, however — and it's only real proof of any arts doomsday — is the closure of two adjacent galleries, Ibid and Harmony Murphy. The neighboring galleries on Santa Fe St near 7th Street were not allowed to renew their leases after a year in order to make way for a new ground-up development. While a frustrating setback, especially for the galleries that made significant investment in the spaces, it's a stretch to claim it as indicative of an entire collapse of Downtown LA's art scene. Already, less than two months later, a new gallery is opening on the same block of Santa Fe Ave where the two galleries closed. The space, Jason Vass Gallery, opens its doors to the public on January 30, vindicating the Arts District from projected art doom. Though Downtown LA's highly speculative real estate market presents a hefty challenge for arts venues, there still continues to be more galleries opening here rather than closing. •