Artist Interviews 2021

2 Live & Die in L.A.  
By Julia Siedenburg & Laura Siebold

Street Art Exhibit "2 Live & Die in L.A." – South Central LA, July 10, 2021

How is it ‘2 Live & Die in L.A.’? That was the question posed by the photo exhibit curated by Frankie Orozco. Being set in a very different part of Los Angeles, very much the opposite of the glitz and glamour of Beverly Hills, the event showcased the real, but often unseen, forgotten or deliberately ignored side of Los Angeles.

The official exhibition announcement read as follows: This year’s show will coincide with the debut of the L.A. Six— six prolific Los Angeles documentary and street photographers that have come together to give the world a unique glimpse into the lesser known reaches of Los Angeles.

Their images include 1980’s L.A. gang culture, the low rider scene of the 90’s, the hip hop generation, the Mongols Motorcycle Club, East L.A. and South Central backyard punk scenes, stunning landscapes of the city, and intimate views of Los Angeles’ Skid Row. Together, their works reveal a rare view of hidden Los Angeles. The L.A. Six includes Estevan Oriol, Merrick Morton, Frankie Orozco, Gilbert Godoy, Angela Boatwright and Suitcase Joe.

Set in and around an old juvenile detention center, which functions as a central space for gang mediation and youth support programs nowadays, the outside part of the exhibition reminded more of a motorcycle meet-up at first. Though as we got closer to the entrance, a professionally dressed doorman wearing a bowtie greeted us. Inside, we first saw multiple market-like stands selling all different types of locally made things- from clothes and hats, art pieces and printed photographs to food and drinks. Further down the lot were beautifully maintained tuned vintage cars and lowriders showcased.

Vintage Car at the 2 Live & Die in L.A. exhibit organized by Frankie Orozco. South Central LA, July 10, 2021.
1st Image by Laura Siebold. 2nd Image by Julia Siedenburg

Motorcycles in the outside area of the 2 Live & Die in L.A. exhibit.
1st Image by Laura Siebold. 2nd Image by Julia Siedenburg

Artwork at the 2 Live & Die in L.A. exhibit. Images by Laura Siebold.

We were fortunate enough to meet up with Suitcase Joe( covered in 1st Issue), one of The L.A. Six and exhibitors at the event, who first introduced us to Frankie himself and then led us into the old juvenile detention building to guide us through the exhibit of images by over 40 photographers inside Immediately, as we walked down the first hallway, familiar photographs caught our attention. Estevan Oriol’s photos that we had seen at Julien’s Auctions at Dave Navarro’s event were now placed neatly next to each other on these rather cold and otherwise bare white walls. We were surprised to see his artwork here, but as we continued, it did make more and more sense to us. Suitcase Joe explained to us that he was one of the most known artists of The L.A. Six. This group was following the same mission - to educate the people about the lower-class life in Los Angeles that the majority of people barely hear about and always refuse to see. All of The L.A. Six’s photographs were either hung in the hallways or the bigger rooms of the building. 
Suitcase Joe had his pieces in the hallway, as well as in one of the rooms where the head of his foundation had set up their stand to sell prints, as well his photo book “Sidewalk Champions – Skid Row Street Photography” (Burn Barrel Press) that was published in 2020.

Images by Julia Siedenburg

He also led us into some of the smaller rooms that inhabited the cells that used to hold the young people imprisoned there. Even the cells themselves were used as exhibit space for some more unknown sketches and photographs.

One other interesting fact that Suitcase Joe told us was that Frankie, who was also part of The L.A. Six, is the only photographer who is allowed to step into the world of the Mongols Motorcycle Club and document them.

We had the chance to talk to one other artist that showcased his street photography of Venice, South Central and Skid Row at the exhibit. He used to be a freelance photojournalist who due to the pandemic, found it hard to find work and so started to concentrate on self-exhibiting his work and tell his stories through pictures.

JC Lopez Photography. Image by Julia Siedenburg

Overall, this event was not at all what we expected it to be but it was great to see diverse L.A. artists come together to showcase this lesser-known side of Los Angeles and wanting to make a change.

Image by Julia Siedenburg

Image by Julia Siedenburg

Image by Julia Siedenburg

Images by Julia Siedenburg

One of many Programs that was at the event and that has been trying to make a change in the community.

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