Since 2010 to present day, Melissa Richardson Banks — photographer, arts consultant, and founder of CauseConnect — has organized and guided walking tours of art in the streets and in artist studios of the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles, exploring the neighborhood she called home for 25 years.
After more than two centuries of constantly reinventing itself, the area evolved from vineyards and citrus groves and working-class neighborhoods to artist studios and now creative offices and luxury living. Today, the Arts District is a popular destination to eat, drink, and explore with over 60 bars and restaurants, more than 50 retail stores, about 30 art galleries in and around the neighborhood, and high-end luxury apartment complexes. A few artist studios remain.
SIGHTS & BITES ART TOUR: In partnership with L.A. Art Show and Jeremy Quant’s Dot Red, Melissa Richardson Banks organized and guided a ticketed tour experience that included visits and artist talks at three local art studios (Nancy Uyemura, Lili Lakich, and David Hollen), a sumptuous spread of free food and drink, and a complimentary copy for each attendee of her book MUSE-ings: Snapshots of the Arts District. Her favorite artisanal foods (vegetarian and vegan options), wine, beer and nonalcoholic beverages from popular Arts District establishments were served in her 1,200-square-foot loft located in a century-old Santa Fe Railway warehouse: strawberry lavender and guava cream cheese hand pies with freshly roasted and brewed coffee from The Pie Hole (three roasts: “The Dark Arts”, “The Pie Hole Blend”, and “The District”), custom “Arts District Los Angeles” natural jute tote bags from Apolis, selection of Bread Lounge cookies (Sesame Peanut Butter Bites, Almond Squares, Sesame Crackers, Oatmeal Cookies, Mixed Nut Crisps), cocktails made with Astral Pacific Gin and Vapid Vodka created by local Los Angeles distillery The Spirit Guild, spicy chicken with toasted sesame puree, panchan pickled carrots and cucumber, cilantro with turmeric pickled daikon, spicy cucumber salad, burdock, daikon sprouts, miso corn, crispy onions, and miso vinaigrette from The Chairman LA, Forbidden Rice & Quinoa Salad from Chef Neal Fraser’s Fritzi (now closed) at Arts District Brewing Company (mixed greens, summer squash, smoked blue cheese, hazelnuts, sherry vinaigrette, black rice, and cumin-scented red quinoa, and the off-menu dried fruit and nut bread from Urth Caffe topped with Mixed Berry Confiture and Strawberry Basil Confiture jams from the Bread Lounge. This tour took place on Friday, January 13, 2017 @ 5-7pm.