HIGHLAND PARK — There are few things more exciting than finding an unaccompanied sketchpad on the street and feeling the temptation to crack it open. It’s an entirely different beast when the sketchpad has instructions inviting passing stranger to draw on its pages.
A year ago artist Brian Mallman did just that, leaving a handful of pads spread out across Highland Park for people to doodle, jot down poetry or whatever fancy struck them at the moment. Some sketchpads disappeared, others were returned to nearby businesses, pages flush with artwork. A sample of that work is displayed in this post.
“I ended up with hundreds of drawings and got to collaborate with an entire neighborhood,” says Mallman, curator of Form Line Here gallery.
Now Mallman wants all of Northeast Los Angeles to draw. Fifty sites across several zip codes will feature Mallman’s sketchpads in what he’s calling Draw NELA at the Center for the Arts Eagle Rock. Maps of the locations will be available at the Eagle Rock Center of the Arts beginning at a May 18 reception. The drawings from those sketchpads will be collected and exhibited in a show scheduled for August. 17
Six years ago Mallman began gallery night in Highland Park, which would eventually morph into the popular NELA Art Night. Mallman was curious about Highland Park’s art scene, of the people who make up its fabric. Now he’s getting inside people’s’ heads, with the sketchpads reflecting each artist’s either wildly experimental or pedestrian work because no one thinks twice when they’re drawing on the pages.
“Art does so many different things. One part of it is to ask: Can you develop something and let it go into the world?”
Mallman’s thrilled at the idea of more anonymous art from strangers on the street. The work he receives ranges from stick figures and landscape images to backyards and detailed Chihuahuas from artist Kozyndan. Everything goes on the sketchpads.
He might be the curator, but Mallman is also answering his own question: Can you develop something and let it go into the world?
Draw NELA – Opening night May 18, 2-5 p.m. at Center for the Arts Eagle Rock.
Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis stories, reviews and photos at Smashed Chair.