Date/Time: 20/06/2004 12:00 am
This is our city, lets live in it!
Open Call for Artists, Activists, Social Interventionists, Architects,
Gardeners, Solar Engineers, and others for site-specific projects in
Northeast Los Angeles to celebrate our neighborhoods and strengthen
creative, grassroots power
-East of the LA River and stretching up along Figueroa and the Arroyo
Seco, Highland Park is girdled by Mount Washington, Montecito
Heights, Glassel Park and Eagle Rock. Highland Park is but one town
among many that we could all call home.
Global Capitalism asks us to ignore the unique histories, experiences
and knowledge that each spot of earth provides its residents. We
become global drifters – just one more consumer wearing a Hard Rock
Café T-shirt from Bangkok, Paris or Disneyland.
In response, October Surprise calls for site-specific installations and
interventions that make THIS place our home. We are calling for work
that reveals and celebrates the past, present and possible futures of
– October Surprise will converge artists, activists and the community to
celebrate our neighborhoods and strengthen creative, grassroots
power, using site-specific installations, interventions, art, monuments,
performance, and other events.
– Projects will be situated throughout the neighborhood.
-We are calling for projects throughout Northeast LA? along the
boulevards and arroyos; in the public spaces, community places and
-The Arroyo Arts Collective at 135 N. Ave. 50 in Highland Park will serve
as a convergence, or meeting space, where participants can present
and discuss their work. Additionally, we are interested in hosting
pertinent lectures. And though the gallery space can be used to
present documentation of projects and ideas, we are specifically
looking for site-specific projects throughout the neighborhood.
-Projects will occur on the long weekend of October 8, 9, and 10, 2004.
Documentation of the events will remain in the gallery through October
into the first week of November and Election Day. (Ongoing projects are
-We hope to help reveal a city to itself and energize its communities.
One month before the election, we are organizing this event to show
where democracy really lives–in our neighborhoods, streets and
homes. Now is as good a time as any to strengthen political and
cultural discussions where it really counts- at the grassroots.
-Send us a proposal by August 1st. This is a non-juried exhibition but
we would like to have a basic participants list for organizational
purposes (including for fundraising, publicity, and for a possible
(Note: Having your proposal by August 1st will help us help you realize
-We don‚t need a fancy resume, just articulate some of your ideas and
tell us how you connect to this place called Northeast LA.
-Contact us with questions and proposals:
Call (323) 449-9019
Mail proposals to: October Surprise, c/o Flor y Canto, 3706 N. Figueroa
Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90065
Or stop by Friday nights at Flor Y Canto and ask for Jennifer.
Check out our website at www.theoctobersurprise.org
Questions to get you thinking:
-What memories of the neighborhood inform the way you live there
-What are the neighborhood‚s specific histories and geographies?
-What was it like to party at Flat Tops, to cruise Arroyo Seco Park?
Where can teens hang out now?
-Where locally must racism and classism be addressed? What
specifically can be done to reduce racial and class-based injustice and
-How can the diverse populations of the area find an equitable
common ground? Where have they found common ground in the past?
-Who and what are the political forces that make real change in our
-How can we make the power-holders more accountable to all of the
neighborhood‚s long-term interests?
-Will a Food 4 Less and a Trader Joes ever exist on the same block?
How about a locally owned store that sells inexpensive healthy food?
-The new Gold Line brings alternative transportation and more
gentrification; what does this all mean?
-What ways can we better live close to this beautiful land- should the
hilltops be lined with windmills generating electricity? Could the
hillside neighborhoods support orchards to feed the city?
-How can we strengthen the local economy to enrich the grass roots?
-What fun, beautiful, exciting things can you and your friends make
-As we barrel toward an ugly national election with frightening
implications for our country, it‚s time to also ask questions about our
immediate community and figure out how to at least make this small
patch of earth better for all. Projects should speak to an audience that
is as diverse as the neighborhood. Take the dare. Find the language.
October Surprise unfolds in a neighborhood that has a long history of
art, politics, and cultural activism. This area once was the home of the
indigenous Tongva, old west outlaws, old time Hollywood elite and the
artists and intellectuals of the Arts and Crafts movement.
The area gradually morphed into a neighborhood of a mixture of
classes with all the inherent tensions that implies. Today‚s residents’
live in a surprising demographic patchwork with socioeconomic
groups are scattered across the landscape. Italians, Philippinos,
Mexicans, Central Americans and others hold onto niches carved out in
LA‚s oscillating real estate market and changing social attitudes.
Today, upwardly mobile newcomers from Silverlake, West Los Angeles
and elsewhere snatching the funky old houses, their tastes and
interests changing the neighborhood again.
Many residents are oblivious to the continued radical traditions of the
area. Many others are unaware of social technologies that can change
the way we all live in our towns. National consumer trends and media
driven taste tell residents that family histories and local sagas are
forgettable in the broad scope of the brave new world. New tastes have
brought in stores selling the latest necessity of Global Capitalism in
stores that threaten to replace the seemingly mundane auto body
shops and beauty parlors that line Figueroa and neighboring streets.
-October Surprise is based on an event known as the DSLR
(Department of Space and Land Reclamation) which originated in
Chicago in 1999. These events invite artists and activists to converge at
a central location and then go out into the city and create artwork about
the social issues of the city.
For more info on DSLR see:
See also Portland Oregon‚s City Repair Project
-October Surprise‚s title refers to Ronald Reagan‚s 1980 election year
duplicity. He illegally bargained covertly with the Iranian government to
postpone freeing the American hostages until after the November
Presidential election in order to reflect badly on incumbent Jimmy
-Some good on-line resources to learn about Highland Park and all of
Northeast LA are;
HIGHLAND PARK MURALS (various locations and artists)
Historical Society of Southern California
http://www.socalhistory.org/ (links to other CA research resource)
Bob Taylor’s history of Highland Park development
Gentrification in Highland Park