Months after moving out of Downtown Los Angeles and popping up across town, Think Tank Gallery opened a massive homecoming exhibit over the weekend, Drinkin’ Smokin’ & West Coastin – A Group Love/Hate Letter to LA.
In a much covered story, the alternative arts venue that was home to the Think Tank for years of skate and street art shows was converted to an events rental space and the gallery co-op was forced to leave following Oakland’s Ghost Ship Fire. Now the gallery has teamed up with sneaker brand Vans and others like Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles to once again take over the venue for a monthlong series of art and events. To pull it off, all of their favorite artists and producers have come along, plus some new ones; and once again they’re bringing nightly events into the venue for a whole month.
This time around, the Think Tank is taking everything back to their roots – both in locale and in theme. Cali born and raised Lead Curator, Jacob Patterson, has focused DS&WC around the musical aesthetic that informed his taste in the arts: nostalgic West Coast hip hop. If you could hang the sounds of Angeleno favorite 93.5 KDAY on gallery walls, this would be the show. The aesthetic period of influence on the show is one that both locals and visitors will recall, tapping an era rife with turmoil and creativity. Creators in the show have been tasked with capturing their take on LA “from the ’84 Olympics to the Kings/Lakers rivalry of the early aughts.”
Incredible sporting moments create but one chapter of inspiration from the period; art fans will revisit the riots whose 25th anniversary just passed, a particularly famous police chase, and many other memories both good and bad. The work of local and international artists like Hueman, Gangster Doodles, Jamie Browne, Alex Gardner, JC.ro, Sinzi Velicescu, and Luke Pelletier fill a list of over 70 confirmed artists so far that will carry guests through the dynamic space. This concept of passage through space is a big motif of the month, building transportation into the immersive experience design that is signature in Think Tank shows. Production Designer Danny Heidner and Art Director Dino Nama have captured the archetypal LA stereotype – traffic – in every layer of the show. They use creative signage, travel brochure art catalogs, and a police chase racetrack by Ash Santos to bring crowds down a memory lane planned with traffic jams in mind.
Other installations include a Lagunitas Beer x El Silencio Mezcal dive bar designed to look like it crashed into a DMV (complete with racing games), Korean-American artist Ray Young Chu’s satirical 1992 Ktown liquor store “Ray-Mart,” Vans' surreal cloud of telephone wires with hanging custom sneakers, and a full Diner serving Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles to provide something for every guest that’s ever fetishized a part of LA history.