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The Highland Park Trailer Project

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I moved to Highland Park in North East Los Angeles (NELA) early 2014. I was steps away from Figueroa Street, a melting pot of history, culture, and the kind of diverse community one only dreams of. Day and night I heard the buzzing of cars traveling via the 110 Arroyo Seco Parkway.

Highland Park Silver Streak Trailer

I’d stroll by the Highland Theater ,with its giant, glimmering marquee lights, and quickly became a deeply involved member of the Milagro Allegro Community Garden . Shortly after, I joined the Arroyo Seco Arts Collective, the longest standing active arts collective in East LA.

I lived with two brilliant physicists (my soon to be best friends) pursuing and ultimately receiving doctorates in particle and theoretical physics at CalTech University. I found them on Craigslist. Together we explored HP and its various and equally interesting surrounding neighborhoods. I adopted my dog, a xoloitzcuintli named Tesla, from my next door neighbors whom tended the Tierra de La Culebra Art Park, a long-time beacon of communal arts in the area.

One evening in summer I relocated living spaces just across the street almost as if from no where. All my belongings made the trek across the street in just two trips. On the preserved acre of land would be my landlord and close friend, a world-renowned artist (look her up here–), tediously working away in her studio and pouring her heart and soul into her land and art. It would not be a conventional living arrangement. I had to run across the yard to use the restroom, shower, use power, etc., but those were petty details. I was living the dream I didn’t even know I had.

The 19′ long 1969 Vintage Silverstreak “Jet” that I’d passed by wondering about everyday for well over a year had suddenly become the space and canvas for a most great art piece. Aside from the main frame, it was rebuilt from the ground up. There was undeniably work to be done, but she had my heart from the start. The renovation my full time job and obsession for at least the next two ensuing months.


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In the 60s the trailer was used as a mobile office for the LA Department of Water and Power . Task #1—it had to be gutted. Whatever critters might have been calling it home would have to relocate elsewhere.

I installed three roof vent systems when I realized they were going to be the top priority in the stagnant and pounding heat. Until these, I slept on the breezy outdoor porch of the main house, or slept in my car with the trunk open (it was cooler in those spots than inside the 100+ year old, 100% American Craftsman home). We caulked, and sealed what needed to be done and decided privacy curtains would have to come later. I don’t need as much privacy as I ever thought!


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This is what it looked like after the initial gutting. Luckily there was a pre-existing deck (this plays a major part soon).


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After acquiring some beautiful lumber from my friend/owner (and one of the most up-and-coming contemporary  artists to watch of this time, Kyle Austin Dunn) of BayAreaCustomFurniture  , I began my own custom woodworking and accents. I used solid red wood floor panels replacing sheets of old, damp, plywood. The result gave a true breath of life to the space. Stark white walls were established after three layers of primer, three layers of paint, and two days of scrubbing and cleaning away years of grime and dust.


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Living a minimalist lifestyle has always been my chosen path. Each item in the trailer was of personal value. My goal was to create product of form and function working in concert—Pictures, curated salon wall, artwork of friends, antique furniture and accent pieces, the works. The vintage barber chair show is a stellar find from a local man of the neighborhood with an unparalleled skill collecting metal odds and ends selling them to local antique and vintage stores. We’d done business before, and he came to me first, knowing I’d be ecstatic. Um, yes please.


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Hanging on the wall to the left in the photo below is the original hand drawn design plan for the the community garden. These sort of pieces are priceless. My bed shown above is small and an irregular shape. A special foam pad needed to be cut to accommodate the curved front of the trailer.

Those nights ended up being some of the best rests I’ve ever had. In the summer, when it was scorching, I’d sleep with the door wide open, facing palm trees, while Chopper, our sweetest property dog, staked out on the deck keeping me safe. In the winter, it was a different story. I had a small yet effective space heater. Yet my mother sensed the probability of changing weather conditions and mailed an electric blanket well in advance during the early fall…(thanks, Mom).


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Power ran straight from the main house under a shallow ditch using a couple long, orange extension cords. Something tells me this isn’t to code. I’ll apologize later. Moving on!  It was thrifty clearly a project in which we had to be resourceful—not to mention, it worked perfectly. The hanging lanterns shown here proved my primary light sources. When it came to using the internet or talking on the phone I took that business out to the deck any hint of a signal.

The stump pictured below is actually made of real California avocado wood, originating from a mature tree I knew during my time surfing for six months in Ventura, California  before making my post-graduation move to LA to pursue my burgeoning future as a writer and producer in Hollywood. The beautiful tree was tragically cut down, despite much protest from locals. Alas I collected the remnants I could. I created this stump and a live edge coffee table which I added hairpin legs to and use on a daily basis.


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This is the even more fun part.

Months later after the bulk of the work was in good standing, a close friend of mine, a Senior Producer at The Ellen Show, approached me about an upcoming segment of the Ellen Show show called Grand Design. A professional crew would come in, and renovate various spaces across the country in just two days per project for under $1,000.Within a month the job was done and exceeded any and all expectations. See for yourself!


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The revived shiny coat was achieved by using a finish that is used by airliners to maintain their appearance and upkeep. A turquoise stripe added just the right personal touch, matching the style of not only myself but also my eccentric property owner/artist whom generously allowed me to share her land.

The transformation was not only aesthetically transforming but also initiated a re-birth and revitalization in the mindsets and hearts of all that gave energy to this project.

Others seemed to agree!

Look at all the attention it received on social media!


Check out the articles here.

Want to see the episode? Click HERE!


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There were many of these lazy days I will always have a lifetime of gratitude, memories and pride in my work and the team of others that helped me with achieve my vision.


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MorYork Gallery presents WATER STORIES, a collaborative mixed media art piece

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The MorYork Gallery in Highland Park is a true wonderland of curiosities hidden in plain view. Its home is on a busy corner diagonal from locally famous Café de Leche on York Boulevard in Highland Park. A plain green wall lets the space sit unnoticed while walkers and drivers pass by. Behind the green wall is a portal into an otherworldly collection of art and artists collaborating and creating amid a large skating-rink-turned-art-space that is nothing short of epic in size.

Owner of MorYork Gallery, Clare Graham, talks with his resident artists underneath a hanging installment of dangling spines, fibers, and other oddities. An almost occult playfulness and innovativeness is apparent via copious sculptures, furniture, paintings, scientific concoctions, skeletal systems, and beyond.

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This has been Graham’s space since 1986, long before the hype of Northeast Los Angeles seduced the minds of Los Angelinos to come and rally in NELA for hip cultural gatherings. The wood floor still shows traces of basketball court painted lines and the wood vaulted ceiling is reminiscent of what one might imagine Noah’s ark would have perhaps looked like.

Graham’s work incorporates recycled materials, often cast aside unwanted. New life is breathed into each piece, as its corresponding elements work together to create larger than life works of art with radiating character. As one nears one of Graham’s pieces, it seems it comes more to life with the emergence of every detail. Up close, it can be seen that these large-scale pieces are frequently constructed out of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of tiny everyday mundane pieces. His work genuinely winks at the concept of power in numbers.

The theme at hand during this visit is water, leading to the forthcoming collaborative art performance which incorporates movement, sound design, textiles, and prose to portray WATER STORIES.

A series of workshops will allow the public to immerse themselves into the art by extending the opportunity to practice in a variety of media, ultimately contributing to the final product as a whole. The logic behind these sequence of workshops in concert with the final product results in a community minded experience where abstract concepts and philosophy can be pulled from applicable experience. It soaks the viewer in engagement, bringing them closer to a more acute understanding of the art piece rather than taking on the mere role of a spectator.

However, this does not exclude the less active audience member. Stephanie Zalatel, creator of the szalt dance company, works with her team to choreograph a deeply moving five-part performance for WATER STORIES. Movement appears to narrate a story set to the sounds collected by musician and composer, Louis Lopez. Audio clips collected from field samplings are set to bold tones with an ethereal ambience and subliminal humming reminiscent to the experience one might have submerged in water.

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Perhaps one of the most unique elements of the piece, aside from its already left-of-mainstream surroundings of the gallery, is the use of textiles and costuming. Fiber artist, Amabelle Aguiluz, incorporates her knitted clothing into the performance by creating abstract masks and dress-like coverings for the dancers as well as the landscape around them. The various patterns in the knit work resemble the natural patterns that might be found in nature within a bed of sea coral. While Aguiluz generally works with basic dark and light colors, this piece will incorporate a wider spectrum of color, amplifying the colorful and unpredictable make-up of water and all the connotations it possesses.

To round out the process, there will also be poetry about the performance constructed by poet, Julia Nowak. The poems will be featured in the programs at each performance, giving each audience member a memento to take home with them if they were unable to participate in one of the preceding workshops.

There will be several opportunities to get involved. The actual performance will have multiple weekends including April 22-23 (for VIP ticket holders) / 29-30, and May 6-7 /13-14.

Starting March 20, the workshops will be every Sunday from noon until 3pm. It costs $30 to register online, and $40 at the door. If you are interested in all four classes, you can get a bundle rate of $100. The first will be a textiles workshop, followed by sound recordings workshops, then a movement research class, concluded by a culmination workshop where all the acquired skills can be put to use in a cohesive piece. For more information please visit stephaniezalatel.com/class.html or e-mail Stephanie at szalt@gmail.com. If you know you want to purchase tickets, you can do so by going to waterstories.brownpapertickets.com.

The MorYork Gallery is located at 4959 York Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90042.

The Whirling Girlish for @HappeninginHighlandPark !

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As of late I’m writing for @HappeninginHighlandPark (http://happeninginhighlandpark.com) and below is a feature that just posted today about the urban garden in, you guessed it—Highland Park!

Link to full article here!

The Radical Self-Respect of Zora Neale Hurston

In celebration of feminism and Black History Month!

Bluestockings Magazine

This article was originally published in the 3rd Issue of Bluestockings Magazine.

How do we who are part of marginalized groups build and maintain self-respect in an oppressive culture? How can changing and radicalizing our thinking be translated into actually feeling good about our identities, our sexualities, our race and gender, our bodies, our capabilities? How can we import feminism not only into our thoughts, but also into our emotions, desires, practices, perceptions, our imaginations, and, ultimately, into our sense of worth? The example of Zora Neale Hurston will serve as a small starting point to this huge discussion. The conditions that facilitated her development as a powerful person and radical activist are worth studying; they help us recognize and cultivate conditions that feel supportive to us, the people affected by oppression.

Zora Neale Hurston was one of the most resolute and controversial writers of the Harlem Renaissance, the 1920s…

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This Cookie Doesn’t Crumble: An Interview with Cookie Marenco

Whirling Girlish Piece featured in Bluestockings!

Bluestockings Magazine

Cookie Marenco is anything but a newbie when it comes to the music industry. In fact, she’s a downright veteran, having played a crucial role in the creation and distribution of high-resolution audio recordings using a breakthrough digital format called Direct Stream Digital (DSD).

In 2010, Marenco’s company, Blue Coast Records, became the first company to commercially release DSD (one-bit recording 64 times bigger than the conventional CD) downloads. This Renaissance woman is Founder of Blue Coast Music, the parent company for Blue Coast Records, Downloads NOW!, OTR Studios and DSD-Guide.  Blue Coast Music also produces and distributes Hi-Resolution downloads for other companies such as the San Francisco Symphony, IsoMike, and ACT Music among others. She is also a five-time Grammy nominated engineer, and will be featured on the new HiRes Tech Zone panel and with Indiegogo in a press conference titled, “How Indiegogo Will Save an Old Dying Industry”…

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