Buy My Book! MUSE-ings: Snapshots of the Arts District, Downtown Los Angeles

MUSE-ings: Snapshots of the Arts District, Downtown Los Angeles features my signature “on-the-fly” narrative images depicting my fast-changing urban neighborhood. The book is available for sale at local retailers and online through my website and

Captured and shared daily, my photographs are intended to give an insider’s glimpse into the Arts District, which was transformed in the 1980s by artists who created studios in former industrial warehouses and is now in the midst of yet another major renaissance, complete with new restaurants, bars, coffeehouses, retail stores, condo lofts, and more.

It’s been said that my point of view seems more like someone admiring a loved one than a tourist taking photos on vacation. A pile of colorfully painted bricks covered in graffiti from a demolished industrial building, luscious blossoms against stark concrete, blinding rooftop sunsets, bold skies crisscrossed by power lines, serpentine wire twirled around iron fences, and the promise of a new day as the sun rises over historic bridges are among the many images that evoke the sense of a place more pastoral or even more exotic than what you’d expect to find in the center of the nation’s second largest metropolitan area.

My book includes 92 full-color photographs and an introductory essay. It was designed by art director Christy Addis who began collecting low-res images for personal enjoyment months prior to knowing me. Shortly after she did, out of the blue, Addis emailed me a draft layout of images, suggesting that we collaborate on a book.

MUSE-ings: Snapshots of the Arts District, Downtown Los Angeles is sold in person at local retailers and online through the Downtown Muse blog.

BUY IT NOW! The preferred way is to buy from me directly – send me an email by clicking HERE (include your mailing address and payment information on PayPal or Venmo in your message). You can also buy direct on (shipping is free if you are an Amazon Prime member.). Need assistance with a purchase or have questions about wholesale or bulk orders? Call or text (213) 537-4483.

MUSE-ings: Snapshots of the Arts District, Downtown Los Angeles
Specifications: 92 color images and an introductory essay
Hardcover: 96 pages
Retail Cost: $25
Publisher: CauseConnect LLC
Designer: True Design
Publication Date: January 2014
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0989114813
ISBN-13: 978-0989114813
Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 8.5 x 0.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 16 ounces
SKU: BK012014


ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER & AUTHOR: Melissa Richardson Banks refrains from calling herself a photographer (she prefers “snapshooter”), but she plays one most every day in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles. During her daily walks with her dogs Vatche and Foxy, she often takes unplanned photographs with an iPhone. A native of Texas, she’s an adopted Angeleno who was drawn to the Arts District 20 years ago since its industrial feel and close-knit creative community reminded her of where she grew up in Flour Bluff. To earn a living and inspiring other parts of her life, she runs a marketing firm called CauseConnect, which helps businesses and nonprofits work well together to change the world. She also shares photos, stories, and information about the Arts District through her Downtown Muse website and social media (her Tumblr blog won a 2013 LA Weekly Web Award!). Her artistic side is satisfied by managing the Chicano art collection of Cheech Marin, producing museum exhibitions and publishing art books for others, and, of course, taking snapshots.

ABOUT THE BOOK DESIGNER & ART DIRECTOR: Christy Addis was leaving Los Angeles right about the time Melissa Richardson Banks was arriving. Nights of performing in the Arts District’s much-loved but now-closed Al’s Bar, and working in the set decorating departments of the film industry, were left behind to raise her kids in Virginia with her artist husband, Curtis Gutierrez. But eventually those kids grew up, and she has moved back to Los Angeles, this time with both an artist husband and an artist daughter, Isabel Gutierrez. She brought her degrees in graphic design and interior design together to establish her company, True Design, to develop products and provide design services reflecting her eye for color and balance, obsession with textiles, understanding of design history and appreciation of fine art. She and her husband now live in Joshua Tree.


Melissa Richardson Banks is our secret eyes, finding the secret light that illuminates the secrets of an ever-changing neighborhood and bringing them out into plain sight so that they are secrets no more. ~ Cheech Marin, collector, art advocate and entertainer

Melissa Richardson Banks offers a poignant long-form photo-essay chronicling the changing contours of a singular place and time. Her taste for saturated color is met by the neighborhood’s organic proliferation of street art and industrial palimpsests. Her instinct for painterly detail appreciates the way rail tracks or light posts recede just so, the way the sun paints the sky and myriad reflections paint each other, and the peculiar architectural romance of the moribund manufacturing sector. In the tradition of classic street-photographers like Eugène Atget and Henri Cartier-Bresson, her images capture a specific sense of place that looks like poetry, but does the job of documentary. Her unerring eye for the rhythms of her environment approaches the power of, if not nature exactly, then the thing that people like us chooses instead of nature. ~ Shana Nys Dambrot – art critic, Whitehot Magazine

Great artists have flocked to Tumblr to share their work for the digital world to see. Unfortunately, those creative minds usually forget about Tumblr within a few weeks after creating it. That’s why Melissa Richardson Banks’ online anthology of downtown Los Angeles’ Art District, Downtown Muse, is such a treat. Richardson Banks shares her fly-on-the-wall view of street scenes and local stories a couple times a day. Every day. And if you want to get the offline experience of her Tumblr, she offers free neighborhood tours. ~ Judge, 2013 LA Weekly Web Awards