Los Angeles’ Hope Gallery has been many things since it opened in March of this year: a pop-up vegan raw-food restaurant, a venue where local bands Skinned Alive to Death and Soiled Mattress & The Springs have played, and a hang-out for friends, family, and strangers. In short, it’s been anything but a traditional art gallery.
“Honestly, the inner workings of the gallery world are kind of lost on us. For better or worse we kind of make it up as we go along,” says Australian expat David Kramer, who runs the space, which is “about the size of three or four taco stands,” with Cali DeWitt (of neighboring bookstore Family and the Teardrops record label).
Of course, with help from friends like No Age and Wendy Yao (of Ooga Booga), the stuff Hope’s just thrown together is quite exciting, from an inaugural show featuring the collaborative work of Sumi Ink Club (the side project of art band Lucky Dragons) to the crazers drawings of Lightning Bolt’s Brian Chippendale and Sam McPheeters (of seminal hardcore band Born Against). “The folks I know respond to art that conveys honesty and daring. With that in place, the medium is secondary,” says DeWitt of the space’s curatorial choices. “The gallery is a living beast that runs itself,” he continues. “However, it needs a little practice honing its skill.”
“We’re inspired by the idea that you only need your friends and energy to generate something with great impact,” concurs Kramer, who notes that their main priority in selling art is just to keep the gallery open, so they can plan more fun stuff, including shows from Will Sweeney and Aaron Rose.
While cool kids from out of town frequently stop by Hope hoping to immerse themselves in the Echo Park scene, Kramer and DeWitt say there are a few things you can’t absorb unless you live in L.A. “There’s so much hugging your clothes smell!” says Kramer. “And if you don’t live here you can’t be involved in bumping into like-minded folks who you love and admire on every street corner,” says DeWitt, whose current obsessions include Grace Jones and wearing goggles at home. “It is in the little things that a lot of the magical moments happen.”
Hope Gallery is located at 1547 Echo Park Avenue in Los Angeles.