Art swerves left

By Jessica Garcia

It is an interesting time for art in Los Angeles. Just when you
think all has been forgotten, a festival is born.

Last weekend, contrived from the most impractical intersection
of causes – bicycling, music, art, and the environment – the first
annual Swerve Festival came to life in the City of Angels.

Playing host to a curious assortment of interactive
installations, exhibitions, and performances, Swerve Festival
invaded two separate venues. During the day the festival took place
at Barnsdall Art Park in Los Feliz Village, and in the evening at
newest venue addition The EchoPlex in Echo Park.

The idea behind the festival was to get people to interact with
one another, nature and themselves in order to explore the artistic
direction in which everyday mediums have taken us.

One of the stranger art installations was giant, man-made
pinwheels promoted by festival art curator Aaron Rose. The
pinwheels, standing an allusive 8 feet tall, were designed to
generate energy relying solely on wind power.

Festival director Jonathan Wells left no leaf unturned, and no
tree untouched. One of the more comprehensive attractions unifying
art and the environment was the 25 “Listening Trees” condensed in
Barsndall Park.

Each tree was revamped with a pair of vintage headphones and
accompanying iPod that projected music of native Los Angeles
groups, including Aimal Collective, No Age, and Giant Drag.

Participating Los Angeles artists isolated specific cliches
attached to the city in order to demonstrate a need for change.

Photographer Terry Richardson offered deeply invasive images
that challenged by and large every cultural taboo imaginable.
Muralist Jesse Spears created a scene when agreeing to “tattoo”
fans’ arms and chests with permanent marker. Art partners Gents of
Desire made a point with their free Polaraoid “photo booth”
demonstration set in front of a graffiti-inspired backdrop.

Promoting the ever-evolving, gas-friendly phenomenon of biking
that has recently sank its teeth into Los Angeles commuters, behold
– an installation. Major sponsor Los Angeles County Bicycle
Coalition donated various bicycles that were anchored to the ground
of a grassy area central to most other attractions.

Festival-goers were able to test each device individually,
perhaps shedding some light on why the cyclying-craze has taken the
city by storm with its appeal as a fun fitness excursion and
gas-saving alternative.

The term “outside the box” was never intended to be a figure of
speech here. Located near the edge of Barnsdall Park, past the
graffiti-covered trash cans, the vegan food vendors and stream of
self-proclaimed “eco-friendly” portable toilets, an undeservingly
small stage prepared to claim many music-driven hearts for the bulk
of the weekend.

Psychedelic rock group The Black Angels and Los Angeles’s own
Foreign Born were just two of the many local music acts selected to

Saturday night’s festivities relocated to downtown were around 9
p.m. Brazilian pop band Bonde de Rio graced the EcoPlex stage to
cover The Darkness’s worn-out dance bit, “I Believe in a Thing
Called Love.”

Closing night saw Claremont natives and musical menaces We Are
Scientists. The tro performed before an estimated crowd of 200.

If indeed Los Angeles is in the middle of a culturally artistic
awakening, let your surroundings be the judge. Swerve has proven to
challenge the off-beat boundaries of what our community considers

Reach Jessica Garcia at

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