Hitting the Pavement in Old Torrance
There’s strength in numbers. Small businesses in small communities have been finding a way to bring attention to themselves and to each other by means of an artwalk, whether monthly as in San Pedro, during the summer as in El Segundo, or on a once-annual basis in Old Torrance. The occasion can be festive, a chance to explore, to discover, and to meet friends old and new. All these things are in the cards for the Torrance Artwalk which takes place on Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m.
“Last year we had three venues,” says Margaret Lindsey, one of the founders of Destination: Art. This year, the number of participating downtown businesses is up to twelve.
“We received the Torrance Advantage Award for enriching the community, and the artwalk was one of the things that they cited,” Lindsey continues, “because it actually brought people to walk around in the downtown area. We plan to do it just once a year and make an event out of it, as opposed to trying to do it every month. If we do it once a year we’ll make it special and something to look forward to.”
Michael Shafer’s Depot is a much-lauded restaurant, and Freighthouse is right next door to it, both businesses once part of the same railway station. Owned by Sara Balough, Freighthouse (because that’s what it was originally) is a design showroom that’s been open less than two months.
“Margaret (Lindsey) asked me to judge the Destination: Art Associates show,” Balough says. “I was very pleased to judge it, and I saw lots of wonderful things.”
The Associates is a group of over 60 South Bay artists affiliated with Destination: Art, and the best of their current work is on view during the artwalk. Destination: Art artists are also slated to display work for sale on the patio of Chef Shafer’s Buffalo Fire Department (the restaurant itself will not be open; it’s closing was just announced).
“I’ve been a patron of the arts for a number of years,” Balough adds. “One of the goals for my new business was to (give) the opportunity for local artists who aren’t always available in a community to have work shown. So I have a big wall and a special installation of chains that hold the artwork so that they could rotate in and out without having to patch holes all the time.”
And more to choose from
“We are very pleased to be a venue for historic-themed work on the artwalk,” says Janet Payne of the Torrance Historical Society Museum, “and we will be exhibiting a few (pieces) from our museum collection of art as yet another way to partner with the arts community.
“We have several paintings of our site,” she says, “and a few photos of our great bridge that I believe the public will enjoy as art, since that is what they are!”
The old railroad bridge, built in 1913, crosses Torrance Blvd. between Sartori Ave. and Western Avenue.
Gallery Exposure, still a relative newcomer in Old Torrance, is officially between exhibitions, says owner Mark Sonners. But a few pieces from the recent show, which were dance photographs taken by Gayle Goodrich, are being supplemented by a selection of Sonners’s own work.
The Torrance Artists Guild, a prominent local organization, is displaying work in front of the Red Car Brewery, on Sartori Ave., a stone’s throw from the record store, P.M. Sounds, the most recent local business to sign on for this year’s artwalk.
Other participating businesses or organizations not mentioned above include the California Museum of Fine Art, Torrance Community Dental, the restaurants By Brazil and La Capilla, and APC Fine Arts Gallery.
The latter, APC, first opened its doors in 1926, up the street on Cabrillo Ave. where the Torrance Theatre Company is now located. Ron Libbrecht, who owns and operates APC, has been showing various artists in the gallery section of his graphic design and printing establishment for several years, and many would consider him the backbone of the entire downtown Torrance art scene, or at the very least its godfather. It’s quite possible there have been other art venues in Old Torrance in years past (there were, for example, at least three movie theaters), but until lately APC has been the only place where one could regularly see art. Happily, that’s changing.
APC gets off to a slightly earlier start on Saturday with a live painting demonstration from 3 to 5 p.m. on the sidewalk in front of the building. In addition, a number of works by digital and multimedia artists are being displayed, as well as some of Libbrecht’s own watercolors painted recently while in Maui, and several pieces by Ron Squared (collaborations by Ron Hurst and Ron Libbrecht) that seem to be a cross between LeRoy Neiman and Jackson Pollock.
“I think what you’re seeing is a new take on Old Torrance,” Sara Balough says. “It’s been an arty little community, but I think it’s getting increasingly into the arts. Artists have found it, and they find it affordable and it’s got charm. It’s the reason why I decided to relocate here and be part of an upswing community, as opposed to trying to elbow myself into the Beach Cities communities, which are fabulous but are hard for a new business to enter.
“The other thing that I feel, being a small business owner, is that I like to embrace independent businesses, because otherwise we’re all going to be shopping at Costco and that’s the only choice we’re going to have. So I hope that there are other people like me that make an effort to patronize independent small businesses or live in a community and work in a community and serve the community. I think that’s a worthy goal.”
The Downtown Torrance Artwalk takes place Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m. on the eastern end of downtown Torrance, between Carson St. and Torrance Blvd., on Cabrillo Ave., and nearby streets. Maps available at participating sites. Call APC Fine Arts Gallery at (310) 328-0366 or Destination: Art at (310) 742-3192.
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