New coloring book created by students reinvents Los Angeles

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Photo courtesy of Alex Zarchy.

Alex Zarchy was going to specialize in a pre-medical field, but is now creating a 46-page coloring book featuring the fascinating art and stories of 15 Los Angeles-based artists, intersecting the worlds of art and social change. .

Scheduled for release Thursday, “Snapshot: LA Artists” features several original works of art from painters and street artists such as WRDSMTH and Bunnie Reiss to Lucid Morgan and Hedy Torres. Thirty percent of the book’s proceeds go to these artists.

Zarchy, a sophomore specializing in public relations, NGOs and social change, discovered her interest in art when she discovered Art Share Los Angeles on a family outing.

Los Angeles art sharing is a non-profit art space dedicated to helping local emerging artists of all kinds in their growth, both personally and professionally. What started as a former textile factory in the 1920s is now a nonprofit with art spaces, including 30 affordable housing units for emerging artists, studios, and an art gallery with free submissions.

“We walked in and it was home,” Zarchy said. “I knew right away that this was where I needed to spend all my time, unfortunately for them.”

With Art Share in his back pocket, Zarchy felt that creating the coloring book and donating the funds to the association was a big but necessary effort.

But Zarchy was not alone. She had the help of co-creator Holly Harris, a sophomore major in biology at Texas Christian University. After being kicked out of college due to the pandemic, Harris developed the concept for the project, and Zarchy seemed like the perfect collaborator.

“For some reason the idea of ​​an adult coloring book by LA artists came to my mind, and I was like, ‘Wow, that would be so sick,'” Harris said. . “I clearly remember that I hardly texted Alex… But I was like, ‘No, it’s Alexandra. I’ll just text her and see what she thinks, ”and here we are. Eight months later.

When they found a direction for the coloring book, Zarchy and Harris wanted to focus on the emerging and established artists, who are making LA’s art scene what it is today.

The choice of Angeleno-based artists to feature in the book was intentional, as were the causes supported by the book. With Zarchy and Harris’ passion to tackle homelessness in Los Angeles, they decided that 25% of the profits would go to Midnight mission, a homeless shelter and service provider for those in LA Since Zarchy and Harris will not make any profit from the book, the remainder of the book’s proceeds, 45%, will be donated to Art Share.

“We really thought this book was a big picture of Los Angeles, and as it was, the fundraiser had to [raise] money for these two really gigantic facets of Los Angeles culture, which is art and, sadly, homelessness, ”Zarchy said.

Art Share Los Angeles is located in the Arts District, next to Skid Row, a neighborhood that includes 0.0001% of LA County’s land area yet has 3% of the county’s homeless population.

Since the Arts District and Skid Row are neighboring areas, artists affected by homelessness would use their creative work as an outlet, artistically painting and cultivating the surrounding areas.

While beautiful, many new businesses have taken the region’s newfound beauty as an entrance for gentrification, pushing back small businesses and nonprofits such as Art Share, further motivating Zarchy to create the coloring book.

“I think it’s about supporting the people who have made this incredible part of the city what it is while supporting these people who want to perpetuate this creation and this art so hard to find in large companies that settle here. Zarchy said.

With this, and the sudden appearance of the coronavirus, many companies in the arts field began to collapse. Art Share Los Angeles has found ways to raise funds with events like its Home Share virtual performance series, where artists use the Art Share space for Zoom live broadcasts, but it didn’t pay off. enough funds as his pre-coronavirus operation.

While the proceeds from the book will help the organization, Toni Figueredo, Art Share gallery coordinator, hopes the coloring book also engages and teaches the LA public and its many facets like homelessness.

“We are a non-profit organization, we are really fighting to stay alive,” Figueredo said. “So if you can have fun, color, interact, but also learn that there are issues you need to wake up from, this is definitely a fundraiser we wanted to be part of, that it brings us some money. money or not. “

Finding artists to contribute to the coloring book was no easy task. Zarchy explained that after a series of unsuccessful emails, she and Harris took to Instagram to find artists to feature in the book using her effective communication tool, direct messaging. Being sure to find artists who were present in Los Angeles who communicated issues that many Angelenos experience such as homelessness, racism and gentrification, the duo found 15 artists.

Missing the busy streets of LA and its murals, Zarchy wants the book to embody the feeling of seeing this art for the first time and understanding the real-time history of the city being created. So, in addition to the artwork, the book includes interviews with the artists explaining what inspired their works.

“We wanted to make an encapsulation so that people feel like they are walking around [and] talk to the artists who painted [the art]”Zarchy said.” And understand what drove this work that really makes LA what it is. “

Harris echoed the same sentiments, adding that what makes this book so different from other adult coloring books is the included narrative component and the artists’ perspective.

“What’s interesting is that you really combine these two different elements, which [are] the coloring pages and the art, then the narrative component of “Why did the artist choose to create this art?” “Said Harris. “It makes it so much more interesting to be able to color in this coloring book because you actually know the reason and the motivations and then you can further personalize the room by coloring it.”

Zarchy hopes that the infamous pompous label of art can be diminished by promoting the book’s accessibility of art and affiliation with Art Share.

“I hope that people are less afraid of art and that art becomes less of a pretentious domain than it has been because art does not exist only in galleries where you have to spend 20 $ to go and visit, ”Zarchy said. “Art does not exist only in museums. There are so many people in this city. There are on the walls of the streets, there are in the free galleries that are made just to expose people to art, like [Art Share]. “

One of the artists featured in the book, Jeremy Novi, best known for his stenciled koi fish street art, dreams of creating safe spaces for queer people around LA. These spaces would create visual comfort for queer people. Zarchy wants readers to question the availability of these safe spaces for artists and non-artists.

“I want people… to walk around and think, ‘Is this visual safe space?’ Zarchy said. “” Is this city a safe visual space for all who live here and all who inhabit it? “”

One of the most important pages of the coloring book does not contain any illustrations. The dedication page credits the book to Cheyanne Sauter, executive director of Art Share, and someone less expected, Zarchy’s mother. Zarchy lost his mother six years ago and hopes the book alone illustrates the importance of his mother’s life.

It makes me happy that the name of such a wonderful soul is on this project that brings me so much joy and is kind of a part of it, ”Zarchy said.

“Snapshot: LA Artists” will be available Thursday and can be purchased on ArtShareLA.org, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


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