Then, as I stepped out the front door, I saw small groups of people with posters in hand marching westward. It was as if the characters in those gallery silk-screens had come to life. So I followed them down 1st Street.
They were headed for City Hall and the Occupy L.A. protest against corporate power.
Several protesters had created a kind of impromptu art gallery on the City Hall lawn. On one poster, thousands of repetitions of the word "occupy" formed a City Hall tower. A large, street-art version of the American flag covered a patch of grass, and an oil painting depicted capitalists as green monsters.
Near the base of the City Hall steps, Chad Knutsen, 22, had constructed a tepee, using a white linen sheet painted with blue and purple lines. "At night, we turn on the light inside, and it's like a beacon up on this hill," Knutsen told me.
Art can be like that: a beacon, a celebration of possibility. In California, there are still people who believe in its power.