Frogtown Artwalk far from croaking by the river

Art pulsates through the veins of Los Angeles.It gives definition to the ever-stirring melting pot that nearly four million people call home. It’s in the tidal breaks of Venice Beach and the streetlights of Downtown. It’s shown in galleries and sold on sidewalks.

While no one can point at the source of LA’s creativity, it would seem there is something in the water. At least the residents of an area known as Frogtown would say so.

Stretching along the Los Angeles River, the artist community held its Sixth Annual Frogtown Artwalk this past Saturday. The galleries in this small area opened their doors for spectators from 4 to 6 p.m. for a unique experience.

Heading north on Glendale Boulevard into Elysian Valley, one sees the improvements made to the area. A more bohemian scene replaces the quaint shops and mini-marts.

Lush green foliage begins to consume the surrounding area with each overpass. Frogtown literally sits on the edge of the LA River. Upon entering the festival, a view of the valley unveils itself, and the exploration begins.

The Frogtown Artwalk felt warm and welcoming immediately upon arrival. The scene was a bit slow at first until nightfall, when festivities certainly picked up.

The earlier crowd consisted of an older, more sophisticated bunch. A younger wave followed around 9 p.m. when families began arriving.

Moving from space to space, it became apparent that many galleries are in fact people's homes. Shawn Freeman, a resident artist, said the style is comparable to a salon showing.

Opting out of the traditional gallery setting he described as “dull and boring,” Freeman also thought it beneficial for buyers to “get to see what it’s like living with their purchases.”

In the kitchen of his home, friends shared laughs and poured wine as guests wandered in and out to admire his art.

This sense of hospitality seemed to be the theme of the night, likely stemming from the bonds the community has built within itself.

Simon, an LA fashion designer who only agreed to go by his first name, said, “I like the fact that it’s a very old community that’s been here for years and that they’re trying to build the community and protect the community.”

Simon has known residents of Frogtown for almost 30 years, and hopes to present next year as well.

The Frogtown Artwalk, with the support of Elysian Valley Arts Collective, has been expanding steadily, according to Freeman. Another resident artist, Lewis Mauk says he’s watched it grow to resemble the Downtown Artwalk, and that the visitation has been solid in his space.

“It’s certainly growing and becoming more established where you feel like it’s a real event worth attending,” said Claude Eshaghian, who has been attending the Frogtown Artwalk for all of its six years.

With time, “it will mature like a fine wine or aged cheese,” said Eshaghian.

As for what keeps him coming back, Eshaghian said, “You feel like you’re in a secret place that’s very inspiring and very unique.”