Local creativity spotlighted at 'We Heart Eagle Rock'

While attendance was a bit meager at the "We Heart Eagle Rock" event last Saturday, there were arts enthusiasts who took part with their own efforts to raise awareness about local creativity.

One business that participated in the arts promotion was Colorado Wine Co. at 2305 Colorado Blvd. Proprietor Brett White welcomed art patrons and regular customers alike to his tasting room for an opening reception of an arts display by students at Occidental College in Eagle Rock.

"The idea [of the promotion] is to showcase Eagle Rock's small businesses while resurrecting the art walk," White said as artists showcased their work while mingling with students and patrons over complimentary wine, crackers and cheese.

White, who lives nearby in Los Feliz, is an artist, too.

"I was an English major at Occidental, and I've always been a musician and songwriter, so I have this perspective to study for edification, not for any particular career goal," he said. "I started writing delta, finger-picking blues and transitioned into writing soul, following a break-up."

White said that he made money on an offer for his music, which essentially became seed money for his ownership stake in Colorado Wine Co., which opened in 2006.

"It's more about creating an environment," he said. "So, there are no TVs here. We're launching a wine club online. And it's working — we're making money. We've doubled our business this summer."

White, a bass guitarist who reads poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke and cites "Gravity's Rainbow" by Thomas Pynchon as a favorite novel, said he views sponsorship of the student artists as good business.

"It's as much a [value] to me as it is to them," he said. "I was shown their portfolios, and I thought it was interesting and diverse work."

One of White's customers — Lisa Roman, who co-sponsored the art exhibit at his business featuring various works by college seniors Elizabeth Wu and Irene Lam — agreed that art and business mix.

"I was raised in an arts family," Roman said. "My grandfather did portraits, landscapes, advertising — and he had a job doing brick work and murals, such as the post office in L.A. So, I was raised by hard-working men who were artists, whose attitude was like, 'get a job, take care of yourself and support the arts.'"

Lam and Wu both said they were happy for the opportunity. Lam, who works in digital and printmaking media including silkscreen, monotype and linocut, said she recently created a comic book, which was also on display.

Wu displayed 20 pieces, including a lithograph she titled "Bodies in Bed."

"It is like a grease painting on a large block of limestone," she said. "Then I rolled ink onto that. The ink adheres to where the grease is, and then I rolled it through a press. It's a pretty rare and ancient method because limestone slabs are not very common nowadays."

Wu expressed gratitude for her first exhibition, which runs through September.

"I'm thankful to have a space to show [my work] because a lot of these pieces are very personal," she said. "Sometimes, showing that you're really passionate about something is distasteful for others. As long as you're happy and proud, that's all that matters."

This is exactly what White, who sold his gaming console as a boy to buy a guitar, says he wanted and Saturday's thin turnout won't deter him from having another arts event, he said.

In fact, he said plans for November's event — a presentation by two Occidental professors on Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, ancient Greece and a display of illustrations and vases — are already in the works.

"I love the classics," White said, smiling as he showed a tattoo of Achilles on his arm.

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Holleran is a contributor to Times Community News.