The Cowboy Days
Several artists in the Brewery have resided there since the commune started in the '80s -- aka ‘The Cowboy Days.’ “We rented units really raw -- not even painted -- and things were a little more wild around here,” says Kristen. When you ask them about the rumored crazy parties that happened people seem to have the same response “It was the '80s... ” The dirt cheap rent and desolate surroundings attracted a plethora of artists who had nowhere to go and nothing to lose. Downtown was not yet desirable and Hollywood was too expensive.
“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.