Inglewood welcomes growing art community

imageWhen Renée Fox moved to Inglewood five years ago, the local arts scene was starting to come into its own. She came for the reasons that many fellow artists moved to Inglewood—namely that rents in nearby artist enclaves were too just high.

“I thought about working in Culver City or Venice but getting a space there is so expensive,” Fox said. “And I had heard so much about this place. Inglewood has a great small town feel.”

Fox is now at the center of a burgeoning art community as the curator of the Inglewood’s Beacon Art Building. It is an unassuming structure off a busy section of La Brea Avenue; there was a series of commercial spaces there earlier. Inside is the familiar white box of a museum gallery, with artworks adorning the white walls. Right now, this is the only art gallery in Inglewood.

The building is the brainchild of Scott Lane, who saw the emerging art scene as a way to occupy– and beautify– many of the vacant building in the town. He found Fox through a Google search of local artists and hired her to run the space.

On the ground floor of the building is a gallery featuring work by up-and-coming as well as established artists. For the next few months, the exhibitions in the gallery will be guest-curated by prominent Los Angeles art critics.

Although Fox works within Inglewood’s tight-knit community of artists in town, she sees the work of the gallery as something that extends far beyond city limits.

“Inglewood is a very connected city, surrounded by so many freeways,” Fox says. “I don’t like to think of a show as being centric to any area. Right now we’re showing six artists. Five are L.A.-based; one is from Israel.”

Above the gallery are a series of lofts, where artists can rent space and create their works. Lane describes the situation in Inglewood as the perfect storm for an exploding scene.

“The high rents and the trendiness of many of the other artist areas are kind of a turn-off to the Bohemian class,” Lane said. “Since we opened it up a few years ago, it’s gotten bigger and bigger.”

Gentrifying areas through an arts scene has been a common theme for many of L.A.’s once derelict parts of town. Venice, Culver City, North Hollywood and most recently Downtown LA were all buoyed by incoming artists looking for a cheap place to rent space and show work.

It’s something with which artist Steve Hurd is very familiar. He’s been in Inglewood for 20 years and has seen many areas rise and fall from the movements of the creative class. But he’s impressed with what Fox has been bringing to the area.

image“Renee is part of this new renaissance over here,” Hurd says. “She fits in well with the older art community and the new people coming out of nearby art schools like Otis [College of Art and Design].”

Fox sees something special in the area beyond just a refuge from the higher prices. Inglewood, she says, is an area that embraces community and small business in a way that promotes independent establishments.

“I was so proud of the city for voting to oust Wal-Mart a few years back,” Fox says. “There is a great patchwork of different cultures that creates such an inspiring environment.”

Running a gallery is only half of her life in the art world. She also creates her own work—using colored pencil on paper as her medium. Fox aims for her artwork to be “conscious expanding and a reflection of our times” and focuses on depictions of the natural world. A recent piece, “Bad Seeds” is a series of pointillist images of tree seeds, bathed in the soft colors you might see in a California sunset.

Her work as an artist, though, is very different from the curating duties. When creating a show she takes pains to make sure that there is distance from her own pieces.

“We focus a lot on new genres and things like multimedia that push the envelope,” said Fox. “I love doing my own work, but it’s very satisfying when you can affect so many other artists.”

Images from an exhibit at the Beacon Art Building titled “Densities: Line Becoming Shape, Shape Becoming Object” curated by Peter Frank:

Photos courtesy of Renée Fox
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