Best of L.A.: Art Walks

Gallery hopping is a lot better when you do it with a few thousand friends

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Art walks have a way of turning an intimidating experience—the hushed gallery, the stuffy sales staff—into a party, the kind where everyone’s invited. Nearby shops stay open late, and food trucks fill the streets (fact: conceptual art goes down better with a bulgogi taco). Here are a handful of cultural strolls worth canvassing. Even if you don’t know your Juan Capistrán from your Wu Tsang, you might by night’s end.

ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE
Twice a year, in April and October, the residents of the Brewery Arts Complex (once a Pabst Blue Ribbon facility) open their home studios to strangers for the Brewery Art Walk. The fantastic industrial space, traversed via bridges, outdoor staircases, and ladders, also becomes a food truck destination for the day, with the center of the complex converted into a beer garden and hangout area. » 11 a.m.-6 p.m. 2100 N. Main St., Lincoln Heights, 323-638-9382.

LARGE FORMAT
The Downtown Art Walk attracts more than 25,000 people to the Historic Core on the second Thursday of the month. Nearly 50 galleries welcome visitors (some offer a wee glass of wine), while strummers and drummers sprout up on street corners. LAPD cruisers abound, as the event has been known to get rowdy. Pick up a map at 634 Spring Street, where you can also hear classical musicians from the distinguished Da Camera Society perform. » Noon-10 p.m. Spring and Main Sts. between 2nd and 9th Sts., downtown, 213-617-4929.

WATER COLORS
The Frank Gehry-designed Binoculars Building (one of Google’s offices) is base camp for the annual Venice Art Walk & Auctions. Funds raised at the May event, which includes a silent auction held in the famed structure, benefit the 35-year-old Venice Family Clinic. The art studio tour, which costs $50, ushers visitors into the studios of renowned painters Corinne Chaix and Art Venti, among others. Can’t wait for the yearly do? The monthly Abbot Kinney First Fridays is more about music, food, and clothing, but the participating G2 Gallery hosts shows that are worth checking out. » Venice Art Walk & Auctions: Noon-6 p.m. 340 Main St., Venice, 310-664-7916. Abbot Kinney First Fridays: 6 p.m.-2 a.m. Abbot Kinney Blvd. between Venice Blvd. and Westminster Ave., Venice.

TWICE AS NICE
At the 2nd Saturday Art Walk in Long Beach, businesses in the city’s East Village Arts District (a six-block stretch near the ocean) stay open late. A section of Linden Avenue is closed to traffic so that artists can set up booths selling everything from African masks to handblown-glass planters. Among the must-stops is the Hellada Gallery, which holds a juried competition. You can take a break and see a band at the GreenHouse or sit down and have a proper meal at the charming Utopia restaurant. Twenty minutes inland is First Fridays Long Beach, a larger event with rotating themes (“Mardi Gras,” “Long Beach County Fair”) that inspire people to come in costume. Hitch a ride on the double-decker bus that rolls along Atlantic Avenue. » 2nd Saturday Art Walk: 4 p.m.-10 p.m. East Village Arts District, Long Beach. First Fridays Long Beach: 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Atlantic Ave. from Bixby Rd. to San Antonio Dr., Long Beach.                               

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