“Suddenly all these struggling artists belonged somewhere; they had their own village,” says LA historian Hadley Meares, who imagines there was a Lord of the Flies quality at first. “I bet the police didn’t come around much. It was like their own little anarchist universe where they could create and destroy what they wanted.”
Tamed though it may be, The Brewery remains largely the same, “It hasn’t really changed in 30 years. That’s what’s so incredible,” says Roland Reiss, one of the stalwart residents who, along with his wife and fellow artist Dawn Arrowsmith, has resided there for 30 years. “It really feels the same,” he says, though his own work has evolved along the way. Reiss is one of the best-known artists at the Brewery, creating effusive floral paintings which he says are more about the geometric pattern of flowers than the flowers themselves. The pieces range between $20,000-$40,000 a pop and hang in the permanent collections of LACMA, MOMA and the Hammer.