Autumn Lights illuminate DTLA

In New York autumn is characterized by significant weather changes. The leaves change colors, the air is crisp, and tourists flock to the area. In downtown Los Angeles, however, thousands celebrated the equinox on Saturday, Sept. 22nd, with the seventh annual Autumn Lights L.A. festival that happens on the first day of fall. The festival, which combines live music with live art and high tech lasers, has grown considerably in the last two years.

Lilli Muller, the German born coordinator of the event, sought to create something unique that would unite citizens in the surrounding community while simultaneously bringing in tourists and revenue for L.A.

“I created this monster,” said Muller, “I know all the artists and I know a lot of light artists never get exposure.” “They are cutting a lot of art out of school, and I wanted to make the focus on art and I think people can relate,” she continued.

Whether it was the body painting, the music resonating through Pershing Square, or the lights flying through the air, people responded. Many people who attended the event did so on little more than a spontaneous whim.

Jimmy Martinez was dropping his girlfriend off at work and was headed home when he decided to make a detour downtown. “I’m an artist and, I mean, seeing all this stuff opens up a new door. This gave me inspiration to try a different medium,” said Martinez.

“I was coming home and I got on the wrong bus” said Erick Govea. “All I saw was lights and it drew me in. I didn’t even know what this place was called but I definitely need to start coming downtown more” said Govea.

For airbrush artist Robert Yancy the festival is a place to both inspire and mingle. ”This is dope, live art is a great way to network,” he said. “This area is never populated by the average Joe. Most people would never come downtown if it weren’t for Staples Center.”

While some guests were admiring the beauty of local chef and restaurant owner Julie Titus who happened to be modeling for the festival, Titus marveled at the beauty surrounding her.

“I would say this is the most beautiful Pershing Square has ever been, the caliber of art here is amazing,” said Titus. “They’ve turned a transient filled station into something for the community. It’s about the artists and people who appreciate art.”

“I’m very impressed, there’s much more art this year,” said Aje Moussa. This was Moussa’s third year attending Autumn Lights. Moussa’s love for lasers came at an early age when he experienced his first Pink Floyd concert.

Moussa, a laser artist and engineer, has attended Autumn Lights since it started. “I want to pass the torch and show others the way,” he says. “I’ll be here as long as I can be, as long as they support me, I’ll come back for every gig. This is my passion.” He went on to say, “You get bit by the laser bug, that’s what us ‘laserists’ call it. As soon as I turn on the fog and the lasers merge it attracts people. It’s hypnotic.”

Although the majority of the art is avant-garde and the vibe is very hip and chic, Autumn Lights is surprisingly family friendly. Guests are allowed to bring pets and there is no alcohol served, so Autumn Lights is the perfect late night outing for the family unable to book a sitter.

“This event is great, it’s very accessible,” said Spencer Thornton who was in attendance with his family. “We came to see Ruby Friedman. The music is the focus for us but the lights make it a show”.

In essence that is what the festival is all about. Enriching the culture of downtown L.A. through one extravagant spectacle of cultural exchange.