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Event: Manifest Equality transforms
shuttered Big Lots into a gallery of political art

March 3, 2010 |  3:07 pm
IMG_2335

The Big Lots store where Philippe Starck took me Christmas shopping in December 2008 has undergone its own stark transformation. After closing, the Hollywood store spent months behind plywood -- but through Sunday, it will be reopened as the Manifest Equality Gallery. The exhibit includes politically themed artworks by more than 150 artists -- including Los Angeles residents Shepard Fairey (of Obama "Hope" poster fame) and L.A. Times Home subject Aaron Rose -- addressing topics such as same-sex marriage, racial tolerance and personal liberty. 

The show was designed by the Los Angeles firm Commune, which erected housing crisis-inspired shacks, above, inside the fluorescent-lit space. Using donated supplies and salvaged lumber from ReUse People of America in Pacoima, the exhibition space cost about 40 cents a square foot, says Commune co-founder and co-owner Roman Alonso. 

The original artwork on display ranges in price from $40 to $40,000, with proceeds benefiting Courage Campaign. An on-site gift shop offers T-shirts, felt critters, $26 ceramic cups by Katsuo Design and $20 posters by Sister Corita, the noted printmaker and art teacher.

Design fans won't want to miss the work of Mike Murphy, who transformed two household items into stop-you-in-your-tracks installations. His "Flawed," below left, re-creates a shattered mirror as it might be caught in a single frame of a 3-D film, exploding outward at the viewer. In "It's Complicated," below right, Murphy conceals a sound system in the base of a heart-shaped table with a mirrored top covered in a shallow pool of water. A spotlight trained on the mirror casts a reflection on a nearby wall that gently pulsates as the sound vibrations ripple the water. After watching it visualize music by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, all I can say is if I had $18,000, this would be the first thing visitors would see when they stepped in my front door. 

Murphy

Manifest Equality Gallery, 1341 Vine St., Hollywood. Open Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m to 6 p.m. The artworks are also posted online.

-- David A. Keeps

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Photos: David A. Keeps

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