Tag Archives: los angeles

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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Happening in Highland Park

Highland Park, Los Angeles, is an epicenter of change currently. Property values are skyrocketing, and new businesses are attracting people from all around to come and indulge in the unique culture and atmosphere of Historic Highland Park.

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Just across the street from the iconic Frank’s Camera building and newly opened Highland Park Bowl, the Highland Theatre lights up the sky on the weekends with its locally famous green marquis lights, reminiscent of the exciting buzz of yesteryear, when families would head out to Figueroa Street for a night of wining, dining, entertainment and socializing.

Behind the theatre, whose backside is tattooed with awe inspiring street art, is the Milagro Allegro Community Garden. As summer falls upon us, new life is breathed into the once parking lot that now serves as a focal point of community activity and natural beauty for the Northeast Los Angeles (NELA) community.

The garden itself is a place for gardeners to come a rest after stressful days at work, and reap the fruits of their labor (literally). While each plot serves a different purpose to their individual plot owners, the 30+ collective raised wooden plots create an oasis amid an urban landscape.

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Last year, among the most successful of the community programs held at the garden was our Amaranth Harvest, hosted by Liz Goetz, MFA in partnership with the Souzas of Art in the Park located in nearby Hermon. A series of educational art classes educated children about the history and purpose of Amaranth plants in Guatemalan culture. By the end of the three-month project, the grains were ready for harvest, and community members gathered to harvest the seeds in traditional Guatemalan practice, and the seeds were then stored in the local seed library to be re-used for this year’s harvest. There are more of these types of programs in the works.

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In an ongoing effort to be a zero-waste and water conservative community garden, we have added giant 300-gallon caged water tank. The benefit of the plastic tank is that it is easier to quantify exactly how much the garden is using, as opposed to over watering with traditional hoses and water cans. Another perk is that these plastic tanks are durable, yet easy to mend if they were to become punctured. They don’t rust over time like the heavier, galvanized steel tanks do, making them easier to maneuver around, and more cost efficient.

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Rather than watering in the middle of the day, most of our gardeners have taken to the habit of getting to their plots early in the morning, or in the later afternoons to hydrate their plots. By doing this, the water is able to soak to the roots, and enrich the roots as opposed to watering in the middle of the day, when the sun quickly evaporates the water.

It is also imperative to not over water the plants, and make sure that gardeners are not just watering dirt. Native Southern California plants are resilient and actually do well with little water, as they have had to adapt and evolve over the years, especially during the historic drought we have found ourselves in the middle of.

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One of our favorite gardeners, Felix, tends to his plot, which has been producing a wealth of amazing mint and abundant lettuce. 

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Here’s some of the lettuce we are taking home to eat from Felix’s plot! 

Another addition to the garden is a large compost system. Generally, successful garden composts are divided into three categories (and they don’t have to be all nice and neat, contrary to what you might read on the internet or in official gardening books). You just need three quasi-separate piles: new compost, aging compost, and ready to use compost. A combination of brown (dry) and green (wet) compost will create the proper nitrogen and carbon to help break down the material, creating a compound of nutrient rich soil to better help your plot become a flourishing bed of growth. It’s easy to get in the habit of creating a designated bin for kitchen scraps that you can heap into your local compost at your convenience!

It is also important to aerate the compost, this can be done with a pitchfork, and by just making sure that air and moisture are reaching all parts of the materials in the compost. This will deliver oxygen where it is needed, keeping the cultures within alive and active. This can be done weekly, or whenever a hefty amount of new material is being added to the compost.

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The best things for your compost are easy to find and will help you take step to living a more sustainable and zero-waste lifestyle! Composts can include dead leaves, lawn clippings, food scraps (not including meat and fat), black and white newspaper, manure (preferably from organic-fed sources), and all organic matter.

Each raised plot should cultivate a combination of fertilizer, rich in nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, grass clippings and/or wood chips (to prevent weed growth, more susceptible in places with direct sunlight), and compost. Grass clippings are an optimal source of organic fertilizer, as it is available via often free local sources, it does double duty preventing weeds and conserving water and garden soil moisture, which is something that not even all bags of pre-packaged commercial mulch does.

The benefits of raised bed garden plots are seemingly endless. They produce a better yield for area because there is better drainage and better opportunity for deeper rooting and stronger crops. It is also easier to rework the soil and top layers from season to season, making your plot ready to serve you all year round.

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This season, my plot-mates and I decided to turn all the soil, removing all weeds and excess roots, to make room for our new seedlings. With about five bags of manure from a local source, our plot was ready to get started! It is always encouraged to plant from seeds, and we advocate for this at Milagro Allegro. This year, we purchased our organic seeds from Sunset Nursery in Silver Lake and used a seed started kit to germinate the seeds. When they were ready to be transplanted, we transported them to the plot and arranged them in their appropriate rows. So far so good!

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Our giant trellis is being used for our melons, tomatoes, and my favorite—watermelon. Last year, with just one watermelon seed, I was able to manipulate my watermelon vine to work its way all around my giant trellis to create a watermelon tree of sorts. Because of the adaptability of the fruit, the vines strengthened to adapt the the weight of the melons, allowing them to grow and hang in a unique and creative way. I hope to do this same this year! The results were delicious.

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There is not shortage of trellises for gardeners to utilize at the garden and there are a variety of sizes and types that can cater to your individual gardening needs. Summer trellises can be used to help grow tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, pole beans, gourds, melons, squash and pumpkins.

During the months of May and June, it is prime time to plant the following for the best results; basil, beans (bush and pole), beets, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, jicama, lima beans, mustard, okra, peppers (of all varieties), pumpkin, radish, squash, sunflowers, Swiss chard, tomatoes, watermelon, and zucchini.

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There is something satisfying and fulfilling about caring for something and watching it grow. Not only are there aesthetically pleasing benefits of gardening but functional rewards as well. There is a community of local gardeners that congregate to chat and enjoy the outdoors in the middle of a neighborhood where some have lived for generations. But people are welcome to enjoy the garden, whether you are an established resident of the area, or looking to get more involved. Each plot gives a little glimpse into each gardener’s character. So stop by and watch the evolution of the harvests of summer 2016!

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Jasmine produces a seducing aroma for passerby’s of every variety. 

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Fruit trees lining the garden create a more inviting ambiance as opposed to the often deterring chain link fence. The apples are in bloom as wells at the beautiful flowers that grow with them. 

If you are interested in starting some sort of community programming in the garden, please contact Andrea Kainuma at andreakainuma@gmail.com for more information.

For more background on the genesis and mission of the garden, here is the description as listed on its Facebook page:

“The Milagro Allegro garden is located at 115 S. Avenue 56 in the Northeast Los Angeles community of Highland Park. The garden features 10,000 square feet of land divided into 32 raised plots for cultivating fruits, vegetables and flowers. The garden also features a gathering circle for hosting classes, workshops and community events.

Milagro Allegro is located behind the historic Highland Theater, on 10,000 square feet of land belonging to the City of Los Angeles. Before Milagro Allegro began negotiations for a community garden, the land had remained vacant for 30 years—full of weeds and surrounded by barbed wire.

Thanks to the tremendous efforts of several community members and the support of Los Angeles City Councilmember Ed Reyes, Assemblyman Kevin De Leon, L.A. Department of Transportation, L.A. Community Garden Council, L.A. Conservation Corps, Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council and Home Depot, the Milagro Allegro Community Garden was able to open its doors.

The Milagro Allegro Community Garden is organized under the Los Angeles Community Garden Council, which supports 70 community gardens throughout Los Angeles County. Collectively, the gardens serve nearly 4,000 families and have become a vibrant part of their communities aimed at reducing poverty, mitigating global warming and benefiting the environment.

Its mission is to be a center of peace and beauty in the community where the cultivation of vegetables, fruits and flowers as well as creative ideas, artistic expression and neighborly values may take place.

The Milagro Allegro Community Garden integrates urban farming, art and education in the heart of the Highland Park neighborhood. Garden plots are available for interested community members. A community gathering space hosts classes, workshops and events. Local schools may incorporate the garden into curriculum or after-school activities. “

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel open commercial art space in LA’s historic Arts District

When my Uber driver pulled up to 901 East 3rd Street in the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District on Sunday, March 13, I was nothing short of impressed by the scene I had suddenly found myself in the middle of. There were a slew of other cars trying their hands at weaving in and out of an influx of people crossing the street coming to and from the large white building resting on an entire city block on the corner of East 3rd Street.

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The bustle was all for the opening of the newest commercial gallery space, Hauser Wirth & Schimmel. This new Los Angeles location is the newest addition to the world-renowned collector/curator spaces of Hauser Wirth with home bases also in London, Zurich and New York City. There were people of all ages making their ways into the gigantic space to experience Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Woman, 1947-2016.

Inside the venue one might find them at a loss of what to do first. Upon entry there is a fine bookstore, public breezeway with historical references about the building’s history as a wheat mill, a research area, education lab, planting garden, and restaurant. An outdoor courtyard area lured in spectators with the aroma of delicious food, which was handed out as complimentary dishes for all guests. The weather was idyllic for such an event and hoards of people enjoyed the communal outdoor sitting tables to feast and discuss the unique art on display in Hauser Wirth & Schimmel.

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Various grand rooms gave way for opportunity to see in-person works by some of the most influential artists in history. The first room I made my way through was the large show space, bright with natural light streaming through the grand atrium. I walked around the space observing a myriad of sculptural pieces set among the building’s historic and elegant columns. From room to room, gallery goers were able to experience large-scale sculptures, installations, paintings, works on paper, and beyond. Contrary to the typical gallery experience, Hauser Wirth & Schimmel offers more than just pieces on display with price tags attached, but rather they are more representative of the non-collecting art museum. Many of the pieces shown at Revolution in the Making, are on lone from other galleries.

Swiss Gallery juggernauts, Iwan and Manuela Wirth, alongside their partner, Paul Schimmel, formerly of the LA Museum of Contemporary Art, aim to have a space where art is commissioned, there are group shows, and education is at work. It makes for a more communal experience and is more engaging with the public. As opposed to other shows that don’t typically stay in one gallery for extended period of time, Revolution in the Making will make its home at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel until September 4, 2016; optimizing the amount of time the public can come and enjoy the art.

The building itself is over 100,000 square feet and each unit’s origins range from the 1890s until the 1940s. A personality of its own emergences from the mere presence of the building, paying homage to its integral roots in Los Angeles’ rich history. A symbol of wheat and ship’s wheel marks the original purpose of the space, and points back to the early days when it was amidst the manufacturing district of Downtown LA.

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It has been mentioned that the mere architecture of the space alone points to an optimism about LA that once radiated throughout the city during the industrial revolution that we don’t see as frequently in architecture of today. Perhaps the activity and life breathed into spaces such as Hauser Wirth & Schimmel will reignite that sort of enthusiasm in the public surrounding.

I found myself taken aback by the sheer number of artists involved in the show as well as the amount of pieces. There are over 100 pieces by over 34 artists being shown right now at the gallery, each with their own story and place in the advancement of women in art. Each room seems to transcend generations and penetrate to the core of the women’s movement during each era. There is a sense of community, learning and awareness surfaced when venturing from one room to the next. Among just some of the names of the post-war era artists shown are Ruth Asawa, Lee Bontecou, Louise Bourgeois, Claire Falkenstein, and Louise Nelson. Moving on to artists of the 1960s-70s are works from Magdalena Abakanowics, Lynda Benglis, Heidi Bucher, Gego, Francois Grossen, Eva Hesse, Sheila Hicks, Yayoi Kusama, Mira Schendel, Michelle Stuart, Hannah Wilke, and Jackie Windsor. Representing contemporary artists there were names such as Isa Genzken, Cristina Iglesias, Liz Larner, Anna Maria Maiolino, Marisa Merz, Senga Nengudi, Lygia Pape, and Ursula von Rydinsvard.

To describe the experience feels rather artificial, as one should go and witness the breadth of work and history present in a deeply historic and monumental space tucked into the framework of the Los Angeles art world.

Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Woman, 1947-2016 will be on display at the Hauser Wirth & Schimmel Gallery located at 901 East 3rd Street in Downtown Los Angeles until September 3, 2016. Gallery hours are from 11am-6pm, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, and from 11am-8pm on Thursdays. For more information you can contact Andrea Schwan, of Andrea Schwan Inc., via e-mail at info@andreaschwan.com or telephone at 1 (917) 371-5023. To learn more about the history of Hauser Wirth and their other locations, you can visit http://www.hauserwirthschimmel.com.

Home is where you park it! : Tiny living in my freshly renovated vintage Silver Streak trailer in Highland Park! (I did it under $1500)

Original post here: Home is where you park it! : Tiny living in my freshly renovated vintage Silver Streak trailer in Highland Park! (I did it under $1500)

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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!

Walk in Highland Park

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