On Thursday, the new offices and gallery space of Flood magazine, 542 N. Larchmont Blvd., opened with a show featuring work by and benefiting the Pablove Shutterbugs – young photographers who are living with cancer.
The Shutterbugs program is funded by the Pablove Foundation, which was started by Jo Ann Thrailkill and Jeff Castelaz, friends of Flood founder Alan Sartirana, in honor of their son Pablo, who died of cancer at the age of six. The program pairs young artists with professional photographers to express their creativity through photography. And judging from the works on display at Thursday’s show, the work is inspiring, whimsical, powerful, and very professional. (It’s also for sale via pabloveprints.org, with proceeds benefiting childhood cancer research.)
“In their search to find answers during Pablo’s treatment, [his parents] found that bridging the arts and supporting research to address the lack of funding for childhood cancers was a powerful way to strengthen communities nationwide,” notes the Pablove Prints website. According to the site, less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s budget goes to childhood cancer research. But since 2009, The Pablove Foundation has contributed $1.5 million to the cause.
Flood magazine is a high-end art and music publication, published quarterly since 2016 and covering “the diverse cultural landscape of music, film, television, art, travel, and everything in between.” It also sponsors and produces music and art events around the country.
The new Flood building is located in the space where the old offices of the Larchmont Chronicle stood for many years. Sartirana told the Buzz that when he bought the old bungalow from Chronicle founder Jane Gilman, he had originally hoped to keep it…but at only about 1,200 square feet, it just wasn’t large enough for the magazine. Flood’s new two story building has gallery space on the first floor, and offices on the second.
Although the new building is now open, one last finishing detail will still be coming in the next few weeks – a big new mural on the building’s south side, which will be a collaborative project between photographer Michael Muller and artist Sage Vaughn, combining their cover art (a hammerhead shark and a graphic field of flowers) from the magazine’s third and seventh issues.
Sartirana said the mural project was approved by the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, and he also – during the planning phase last fall – presented the initial concepts to the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council and several neighbors, who provided “pretty positive feedback,” and “a couple of letters really excited about it.”
The mural will be a first for this section of Larchmont, however, and at least a couple of neighbors were initially a bit skeptical of this new kind of artistic display on the Boulevard.
John Winther, president of the Larchmont Boulevard Association, who attended one of Sartirana’s early presentations about the project, told the Buzz that he isn’t worried so much about this particular mural as he is about a general precedent for mural art on the street. While acknowledging that murals are legal under city zoning rules, he said he’s concerned that the rules do not do a good job of distinguishing between “art” and “graffiti,” and that more businesses may now try to bring attention to themselves “with paint instead of [distinctive] architecture.” Also, while the city prohibits murals that contain specifically commercial messages, Winther noted that the definition of “commercial messages” isn’t well defined by the city…which could lead to more blatant forms of advertising, as well as questions about what kinds of mural images or messages qualify as advertising. (For example, he asked, are images that have appeared on Flood magazine covers just art…or are they clearly ads for the publication on which they first appeared?)
Patricia Carroll, owner of Hollywoodland Realty and an LBA board member, also attended Sartirana’s presentations about the mural, and said she thinks this particular illustration “makes sense here” as an example of the art to be found in the Flood gallery and magazine. She said she also thinks that having a new gallery on N. Larchmont will be a boon to the area’s walkability. But although she thinks this particular mural is in good taste, she said she, too, worries about precedents for more murals and whether or not city officials can or will effectively distinguish between tasteful, beneficial mural projects and others that might be less welcome. “They think just slapping up a mural fixes things…and it doesn’t,” she said.
For now, however, Sartirana promises “We’re not going to put graffiti on the side of the building,” and said the new mural should be done in a few weeks.
[Buzz Co-Publisher Patty Lombard also contributed to this story.]