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Los Angeles artists unite to put an arts spin on Carmageddon 2

August 28, 2012|By Jamie Wetherbe
  • Artmageddon includes a series of art events across Los Angeles timed with the closure of the 405.
Artmageddon includes a series of art events across Los Angeles timed with… (Artmageddon )

This post has been updated. See details below.

With another massive shutdown of the 405 freeway approaching, a grass-roots effort is underway to offer Angelenos an artistic reprieve that's locally focused, timed for the second coming of Carmageddon, Sept. 29 and 30.

More than 100 artists, arts organizations, advocacy groups and community partners have teamed to launch what they are calling Artmageddon, with the  tagline "Less Car. More Art."  Artmageddon will feature a series of events spread out across 16 neighborhoods in Los Angeles County, encouraging patrons to bypass the freeways.

“Instead of the message to stay off the roads while the freeways are closed, what if the message was, ‘stay in your neighborhood?’” said Ezra LeBank, a theater arts professor at Cal state Long Beach and one of the project leads of Artmageddon. “Los Angeles has so much amazing art, but there’s not a sense of togetherness.”

"The last Carmageddon [in July] was the first time in a while that everyone in Los Angeles was thinking of one thing -- you couldn't help it," said Diana Wyenn, REDCAT’s marketing manager and the other project lead. "And we wanted a way to unite the art community around this and promote art across the city."

LeBank and Wyenn started the arts advocacy campaign two months ago with a dozen volunteers from different corners of the L.A. arts and culture scene, including members from the Center Theatre Group, Grand Performances and the nonprofit Circle X Theatre Company.

The group recently launched Artmageddonla.com in partnership with Experience L.A., an online database of L.A. artistic attractions. And Saturday, the website will allow users to browse thousands of events in their neighborhoods and find out how to get there by foot, bike or train.

“We're all pushing for the same thing -- for people to experience art in Los Angeles,” said Wyenn. “We’re all doing this as a labor of love.”

The events -- which include visual, performing and media arts -- aren’t specifically themed for Carmageddon, although some galleries and theaters will extend their hours and performances or host parties that weekend.

"We're celebrating the fact that there's so much art already happening in L.A.," said Wyenn. "How many times do we all travel across miles of freeway to see works of art at institutions? This is a perfect time to jump into a gallery or theater you've walked by for years and see what's happening."

Also joining the Artmageddon partnership are L.A. Stage Alliance, ForYourArt, Green Galactic, the city of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and, most recently, Metro.

The term "Carmageddon" was first coined last year in reference to the 53-hour closure  of Interstate 405 to repair the Sepulveda Pass. Carmageddon 2 involves the demolition of the north side of 608-foot-long Mulholland Drive bridge, which will shut down portions of the freeway on Sept. 29 and 30 in both directions.

[For the record: An earlier version of this story said that Ezra LeBank was the brains behind Artmageddon. The idea and work load is shared by LeBank and Diana Wyenn.]

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