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Activist and Art Convergence in Northeast LA

by October Surprise Thursday, Jun. 24, 2004 at 4:08 AM

October Surprise This is our city, lets live in it!

Open Call for Artists, Activists, Social Interventionists, Architects,

Gardeners, Solar Engineers, and others for site-specific projects in

Northeast Los Angeles to celebrate our neighborhoods and strengthen

creative, grassroots power

-East of the LA River and stretching up along Figueroa and the Arroyo

Seco, Highland Park is girdled by Mount Washington, Montecito

Heights, Glassel Park and Eagle Rock. Highland Park is but one town

among many that we could all call home.

Global Capitalism asks us to ignore the unique histories, experiences

and knowledge that each spot of earth provides its residents. We

become global drifters - just one more consumer wearing a Hard Rock

Café T-shirt from Bangkok, Paris or Disneyland.

In response, October Surprise calls for site-specific installations and

interventions that make THIS place our home. We are calling for work

that reveals and celebrates the past, present and possible futures of

Northeast LA.



- October Surprise will converge artists, activists and the community to

celebrate our neighborhoods and strengthen creative, grassroots

power, using site-specific installations, interventions, art, monuments,

performance, and other events.

- Projects will be situated throughout the neighborhood.


-We are calling for projects throughout Northeast LA along the

boulevards and arroyos; in the public spaces, community places and

private homes.

-The Arroyo Arts Collective at 135 N. Ave. 50 in Highland Park will serve

as a convergence, or meeting space, where participants can present

and discuss their work. Additionally, we are interested in hosting

pertinent lectures. And though the gallery space can be used to

present documentation of projects and ideas, we are specifically

looking for site-specific projects throughout the neighborhood.


-Projects will occur on the long weekend of October 8, 9, and 10, 2004.

Documentation of the events will remain in the gallery through October

into the first week of November and Election Day.

(Ongoing projects are encouraged to participate.)


-We hope to help reveal a city to itself and energize its communities.

One month before the election, we are organizing this event to show

where democracy really lives--in our neighborhoods, streets and

homes. Now is as good a time as any to strengthen political and

cultural discussions where it really counts- at the grassroots.


-Send us a proposal by August 1st. This is a non-juried exhibition but

we would like to have a basic participants list for organizational

purposes (including for fundraising, publicity, and for a possible


(Note: Having your proposal by August 1st will help us help you realize

your project)

-We don!=t need a fancy resume, just articulate some of your ideas and

tell us how you connect to this place called Northeast LA.


-Contact us with questions and proposals:


Mail proposals to: October Surprise, c/o Flor y Canto, 3706 N. Figueroa

Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90065

Or stop by Friday nights at Flor Y Canto and ask for Jennifer.

Check out our website at


Questions to get you thinking:

-What memories of the neighborhood inform the way you live there


-What are the neighborhood!=s specific histories and geographies?

-What was it like to party at Flat Tops, to cruise Arroyo Seco Park?

Where can teens hang out now?

-Where locally must racism and classism be addressed? What

specifically can be done to reduce racial and class-based injustice and


-How can the diverse populations of the area find an equitable

common ground? Where have they found common ground in the past?

-Who and what are the political forces that make real change in our


-How can we make the power-holders more accountable to all of the

neighborhood!=s long-term interests?

-Will a Food 4 Less and a Trader Joes ever exist on the same block?

How about a locally owned store that sells inexpensive healthy food?

-The new Gold Line brings alternative transportation and more

gentrification; what does this all mean?

-What ways can we better live close to this beautiful land- should the

hilltops be lined with windmills generating electricity? Could the

hillside neighborhoods support orchards to feed the city?

-How can we strengthen the local economy to enrich the grass roots?

-What fun, beautiful, exciting things can you and your friends make

happen here?

-As we barrel toward an ugly national election with frightening

implications for our country, it!=s time to also ask questions about our

immediate community and figure out how to at least make this small

patch of earth better for all. Projects should speak to an audience that

is as diverse as the neighborhood. Take the dare. Find the language.


Northeast LA:

Northeast LA:

October Surprise unfolds in a neighborhood that has a long history of

art, politics, and cultural activism. This area once was the home of the

indigenous Tongva, old west outlaws, old time Hollywood elite and the

artists and intellectuals of the Arts and Crafts movement.

The area gradually morphed into a neighborhood of a mixture of

classes with all the inherent tensions that implies. Today!=s residents'

live in a surprising demographic patchwork with socioeconomic

groups are scattered across the landscape. Italians, Philippinos,

Mexicans, Central Americans and others hold onto niches carved out in

LA!=s oscillating real estate market and changing social attitudes.

Today, upwardly mobile newcomers from Silverlake, West Los Angeles

and elsewhere snatching the funky old houses, their tastes and

interests changing the neighborhood again.

Many residents are oblivious to the continued radical traditions of the

area. Many others are unaware of social technologies that can change

the way we all live in our towns. National consumer trends and media

driven taste tell residents that family histories and local sagas are

forgettable in the broad scope of the brave new world. New tastes have

brought in stores selling the latest necessity of Global Capitalism in

stores that threaten to replace the seemingly mundane auto body

shops and beauty parlors that line Figueroa and neighboring streets.



-October Surprise is based on an event known as the DSLR

(Department of Space and Land Reclamation) which originated in

Chicago in 1999. These events invite artists and activists to converge at

a central location and then go out into the city and create artwork about

the social issues of the city.

For more info on DSLR see:

See also Portland Oregon!=s City Repair Project

-October Surprise!=s title refers to Ronald Reagan!=s 1980 election year

duplicity. He illegally bargained covertly with the Iranian government to

postpone freeing the American hostages until after the November

Presidential election in order to reflect badly on incumbent Jimmy


-Some good on-line resources to learn about Highland Park and all of

Northeast LA are;

HIGHLAND PARK MURALS (various locations and artists)

Historical Society of Southern California (links to other CA research resource)

Bob Taylor's history of Highland Park development

Gentrification in Highland Park

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