Monday, November 30, 2009

Esotouric parts with LA Art Walk

Esotouric Severs Ties with Downtown L.A. Art Walk, But Continues To Celebrate Urban Exploration

"Dorothy Parker once described Los Angeles as 72 suburbs in search of a city. Thanks to [Esotouric's Richard] Schave and his friends that may finally be changing." ­
Toronto Star (November 2009)

For much of 2009, Richard Schave and Kim Cooper, the married couple who are the brains behind Esotouric, L.A.'s most eclectic tour company, divided their energies between hosting weekly bus tours into the secret heart of the city and the transformation of the wildly popular monthly Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk into a non-profit community organization with an ambitious new program of cultural activities reflecting the grassroots event's extraordinary draw for locals of all ages. That all changed on November 9, three days before Art Walk, when Richard and Kim resigned.

Taking the reigns at the request of Art Walk's founder, gallery owner Bert Green, Richard was Art Walk's volunteer Director, the event's public face and the author of its Mission Statement, while Kim served as volunteer Curator, developing a series of free walking tours and conversational Salons on L.A. literature and esoteric beliefs. Attendance was up and the Art Walk's official programs were drawing a wider audience of culturally curious Angelenoes -- including foodies who came for blogger Javier (Teenage Glutster) Cabral's walking tours of gourmet food trucks, history fans delighted by free tours of the Mayan and Belasco with the L.A. Historic Theatre Foundation, performance art lovers drawn to Kelley Francis' music, dance and projection installations in the Spring Arcade, and bookish souls attending Salons at Clifton's Cafeteria on downtown bards Charles Bukowski and John Fante, and much more.

Esotouric's other innovations for the Art Walk include the curated Hippodrome shuttle (aka The Party Bus, canceled by DLANC in November 2009), the new map and web site design, an official blog celebrating the people of Art Walk, a successful logo competition, the non-commercial performance Happenings listing service, a series of short YouTube promotional videos, the successful nomination of Art Walk for the Urban Land Institute's first LARC award, and a targeted local and international press campaign that most recently resulted in a feature in the Toronto Star, Canada's largest paper (link below).

It is with great personal regret, but high hopes for Art Walk's bright future as a non-profit in the public trust, that Richard and Kim announce that effective November 9 they have ended their relationship with the Art Walk organization, and resigned as the event's day-to-day volunteer managers. The reason for the split: a philosophical difference with fellow Board members, over if it was appropriate or advisable for Russell Brown, an employee of the Historic Downtown Business Improvement District (a property owners' organization) to play a policy-making role in the non-profit that Richard and Kim envision first and foremost as a PEOPLE Improvement District. As described in its official Mission Statement (link below), the Art Walk non-profit was formed to promote positive public space -- but BIDs have a bad habit of privatizing these places in ways that detract from their free public enjoyment and make the city less livable.

Unfortunately unable to find a common ground with their colleagues, the Esotouric crew had no choice but to tender their resignations.

While Esotouric programming will no longer be featured at the Art Walk, fans of Richard and Kim's unique spin on local history and the inspired enjoymen of the urban core won't be left behind. After a much-needed break from the Downtown scene with a double feature of San Gabriel Valley crime bus tours (Pasadena Confidential with Crimebo the Clown on 12/5 and Blood and Dumplings on 12/12), Esotouric will be back with a bang in 2010 with a very special edition of their flagship Real Black Dahlia tour, offered on the anniversary of Beth Short's 1947 kidnapping. Then peel an eye for a packed calendar dotted with exciting new tours, free public lectures and special events, lost lore of the historic core on the In SRO Land time travel blog, and some very special features coming soon for Esotouric online.

Of particular interest to anyone curious about the history and future of the Art Walk will be Richard's February 27 public space tour THE LOWDOWN ON DOWNTOWN, the subject of the recent Toronto Star feature article.

So as the year draws to a close it's bye-bye, dear Art Walk, from your pals at Esotouric ­ and hello to whatever surprises the future brings!

Upcoming Esotouric bus tour and special event schedule
Sat December 5 ­ Pasadena Confidential crime bus tour with Crimebo the Clown
Sat December 12 ­ Blood & Dumplings crime bus tour
Sat January 9 - The Real Black Dahlia crime bus tour
Sat January 16 - Wild Wild West Side crime bus tour
Sat January 30 - East Side Babylon crime bus tour
Sun Feb 7 - Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles: South LA
Sat Feb 13 - Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles: Route 66
Thurs Feb 18 ­ Jeremy Kasten presents "Spider Baby" with director Jack Hill
Sat Feb 20 - Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles: The New Chinatowns
Sun Feb 21 - Joan Renner lecture "How the 'Bob' Changed History" (tentative)
Sat Feb 27 - Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles: The Lowdown on Downtown-The Secret History of LA
Sat March 6 - Hotel Horrors & Main Street Vice crime bus tour
Sat March 13 - Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles
Sat March 20 - Maja's Mysteries: Rapture & Release (debut)
Sat March 27 - Raymond Chandler's Bay City
Sat April 3 ­ John Buntin's L.A. Noir
Sat April 10 ­ Crawling Down Cahuenga: Tom Waits' L.A.
Sat April 24 ­ Haunts of a Dirty Old Man: Charles Bukowski's L.A.
Sat May 1 - Pasadena Confidential crime bus tour with Crimebo the Clown
Sat May 8 - Blood & Dumplings crime bus tour
Sat May 15 - The Real Black Dahlia crime bus tour
Sat May 22 - The Birth of Noir: James M. Cain's So. Cal Nightmare

For more info on Esotouric, visit

For Toronto Star article on Richard Schave's vision for Downtown, see

For Richard Schave's Art Walk Mission Statement, see

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