October 12 & 13: @ Gladys Park

— by Austin Hines

The sounds coming out of Gladys Park on Saturday and Sunday, October 12th and 13th were anything but a cacophony.  Rudy Pacheco, a Skid Row artist and resident, can attest, “The last two days have been beautiful, I wish we could do this every weekend.” For the fourth year in a row, Skid Row’s Gladys Park has been the site of the Festival for All Skid Row Artists, a weekend of music, art, and community, in the heart of Los Angeles’ Skid Row. The Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) produces the festival each year; it is a place where artists can network, perform and play for the community.

The festival saw the likes of many different types of artists: musicians, singers, dancers, visual artists, performance artists and…performance sports artists? That’s right. On Saturday, the 3-on-3 Skid Row Basketball League had a game during the festival! The athleticism on the court was definitely a work of art and an interesting compliment to the sounds and visual arts that adorned the park. Myka Moon, an artist from Lamp’s Fine Art Program, set up both days and worked on his latest paintings. Flo Hawkins sketched portraits for people free of charge and Michael Blaze of Veterans in Photography took pictures and printed them for people, right there on the spot.

Hundreds of people came and went. Some came to perform, some came to produce, but many simply came to enjoy the talents. Many new artists signed up to LAPD’s artist registry. Over the two-day event, LAPD welcomed over 50 new local artists to the festival and more than 30 returning artists performed for their second, third or fourth time. Tightgrip, a guitarist and singer, played for the second year in a row; he gracefully performed an original song about his mother. Presidential Smoke returned once again, energizing the crowd as he performed his unreleased single, “You Want Me.” George Porter, a singer and songwriter from Jacksonville, Florida, moved to Los Angeles in July. It was his first time at the festival; he said jokingly “I came down because I wanted to play…let everybody know that there’s a new sheriff in town.” Porter did what he does best and he played the Blues.

There were many individual artists, but also many bands and groups that performed. Once again, the trio Black Onyx took the stage and blessed us with their harmonies. The Wicked Saints, a band from outside the Skid Row community, returned for the third year in a row and the LA Playmakers, a group made up of Skid Row artists, brought the house down with their Sunday afternoon performance.

The annual festival would not have been a reality without the hard work and dedication of everyone who contributed; it was a team effort. Thanks to UCEPP who generously gave us their space for 2 days, organizers from Lamp’s Fine Art Program, the volunteers from Amity, LAPD members, and especially the artists, the festival was once again a success!