'Change the Name of the Arts District to the Luxury District'


Are artists victims of gentrification? Or the perpetrators of it?

Artists move into empty post-industrial spaces and poor neighborhoods, save on rent, create their work, build up studios and communities... and then find they're priced out.  

Lisa Adams was evicted twice from L.A.'s downtown Arts District and is worried it's about to happen again. Thirty years ago the area was home to light manufacturing and warehouses. Now it's one of the city's most expensive places to live. "Artists are willing to put up with things that other populations won't," says Lisa. “You are a kind of forerunner to what is to come."

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"Artists are brave," says artist Lisa Adams, "they are on the front line and they're willing to put up with things that other populations won't." Photo: Saul Gonzalez

In downtown LA, The Wolff Company housing developer uses the cultural cachet of living an "artsy" lifestyle to rent two-bedroom loft apartments for $2,700 in a building called OLiVE DTLA. They advertise "commissioned street-art murals" as a building amenity and held a competition for a working artist to move in temporarily and give some street-cred to the property. "It's an authenticity and a personality that we have to kind of work to give the building," says the developer's marketing director.

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Artist-in-residence Kelcey Fisher with one of his large paintings on display at OLiVE DTLA Photo: Avishay Artsy

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Artists Nancy Uyemura and Michael Parker face eviction from their respective 
studio spaces in L.A.'s Arts District. Photo: Saul Gonzalez



Miguel Contreras


Anna Scott