By Darlene Donloe
Twice a year, thousands converge on an industrial section north of downtown Los Angeles for an art experience unlike any other.
It’s the Brewery Artwalk, a free, educational, public art event designed to create an alternative venue for artistic exposure.
The event, launched in 1984, takes place in the spring and again in the fall. It allows artists at the Brewery the opportunity to open their studios and connect with the general public, the art industry, other working artists and the community. The area lies within the artist-in-residence code, which allows artists to rent living and work space in industrially zoned buildings.
The event is for everyone from families, children, students, first-time buyers and individuals who are encouraged to view the artists’ work, meet with the artists in person and engage in dialogue about the art. The event, a self-guided tour where guests can wander freely, is a unique community service open and free to all.
The Brewery Artwalk Association’s mission is to produce, organize and facilitate the Brewery Artwalk, taking place this spring April 29-30 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Main Street in Lincoln Heights, just east of the Los Angeles River.
The Brewery Artwalk, celebrating its 39th year, is considered one of the world’s largest art complexes. With more than 100 participating resident artists, the 6,000-8,000 expected attendees during the weekend will have the opportunity to see new works, discover new favorites, speak with the artists and purchase artwork directly from the artists’ studios. Attendees are able to buy artwork throughout the event.
One of the artists participating this year is DooWop, a self-described queer Black multidisciplinary artist and activist.
“I label myself because I think it’s important to define myself because representation really matters,” she said. “I didn’t have anyone to look up to as a kid that looked like me. There’s nothing wrong with labels. It will help others find their tribe. I’ve always been queer. There was no coming out party. It’s just always been known.”
DooWop describes being an artist as “activist revolutionary work.”
“If I have to be a gay Black woman in America, I may as well be an activist,” she said. “I’m going to face the same hatred in the world. I have a lot to say. I’m here because I have ancestors that kicked ass.
“I want to make them proud. I like to label myself as Black because being a Black artist — we deserve the credit. So much of our creativity is stolen from us. We are originators.”
DooWop, 35, who has lived in Los Angeles since she was a teen, has a mellow personality and an easy laugh. She is inspired by bright colors, pop art and food, and creates magical fake cake handbags, sculptures, and wall art that is so intricately detailed most people can’t tell the difference.
Therefore, her company is aptly called, “I Thought That Was Cake,” a faux food art brand.
“I do fake cake, purses, sculptures and oversized cookies,” said DooWop, who describes her style as “fun and sweet.” “I also have fake food candles. I’m obsessed with fake food art. I like to get my message across with a little sugar on it.”
Her obsession started after she made herself a purse that looked like cake.
“People flipped out,” said DooWop who attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. “They thought it was a cake. They kept saying, ‘I thought that was cake.’ I thought, well that’s the brand. They named it for me. It just happened. I’m so happy and thankful. No one is doing fake cake art like me. You could wear mine in a mosh pit and it would be OK.”
The price point for her faux food bags ranges from $100 to $3,000. Sculptures start at $1,500.
“My goal is to make bags for Gucci and [Yves Saint Laurent],” she said.
Prior to “I Thought That Was Cake,” DooWop had Sweet Kicks, a fake food shoe brand.
“I decorated shoes to look like cakes and desserts,” she said. “It was too exclusive. Over the years, I created my own fake frosting that is water-resistant. It smells like dessert. It took me some years to get there.”
DooWop’s interests don’t end with visual art.
“I love sculpting, painting, modeling, acting, and music sometimes,” said DooWop, who studied music at Cal State Dominguez Hills. “I’m into a lot of different creative things. I have ADHD. I’m always doing multiple things at once.”
Currently, DooWop is working on 10 pieces for the upcoming Artwalk.
“I’m doing all-new art for the Brewery show,” she said. “It gives me a challenge. All of them have different themes. All are fake food art. Don’t know how big of a space I will have. I’ll be showing with artist Ange Cox, whose brand is, Cats Rule All.”
While she would love to make some sales, for DooWop, it’s all about the experience.
“I’d feel I’ve been successful at the Artwalk if people respond to my art,” she said. “It would be nice to have sales, but I’m happy to have people see my work. Financial gain is not the goal. I want them to be touched and inspired.”
“I love the Artwalk,” said DooWop, who studied humanities and fine arts at El Camino College. “It brings in thousands of strangers every day. I like meeting a thousand new friends each day.”
Asked if she could live without art, DooWop was quick to answer, “No.”
“I can’t breathe without art,” said DooWop whose mentor is Plastic Jesus, a Los Angeles-based street artist whose art is influenced by news and culture. “I’m obsessed with street art. I became a huge Plastic Jesus fan in 2013 and met him in 2020. I love his art. To me, a day without art is impossible to imagine. I can’t imagine it and I have a really good imagination.”
Admission and parking for the Artwalk are free. There is free parking in the UPS lot next door.
A beer garden will be located in the middle of the complex, plus an array of food trucks on Avenue 21.
Donations to the Brewery Artwalk are encouraged and appreciated.
The Brewery is located at 2100 N. Main Street, off the Golden State (5) Freeway at Main Street.
“Spotlight on L.A.” is a feature profiling little known places within the city. To propose a location for “Spotlight on L.A.,” send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Darlene Donloe is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at email@example.com.