"Let's wait until this car passes," says Chris Lipomi, while jimmying a lock. Moments later, under the cover of darkness somewhere in L.A., we descend into a dark underpass once used to service a school. Now, this is underground art.

Lipomi hands me rubber boots and a lantern, encouraging me to wade through 6-inch-deep water to view a series of amber drawings he recently completed on the walls. They're mostly reproductions of his art, beginning with his student work in San Francisco and Sweden and ending with his recent shows in New York and Auckland, New Zealand. "I'm interested in how artworks can exist as records," he says. "And how those records can continue on through memory."

Lipomi doesn't profess to be a street artist, or someone who wants to explore public space as an art form like some of his '70s predecessors. But he enjoys making art out of "negative spaces," meaning all those nooks we take for granted in a city like L.A. Moreover, it's available to only a small number of people (here's a tip: he's repped by L.A.'s Daniel Hug Gallery), and always in the dead of night -- "the experience is crucial to me," he says.


-- theguide@latimes.com

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