LAartlab So Far

Were Turning 5!



I started LAartlab in 2009 as a response to what I perceived were a number of challenges facing our city’s youth magnified by an economy in crisis. Some of these challenges included high unemployment, a shortage of art programs for public schools, and limited opportunities for teens to become actively involved in shaping the arts community in Los Angeles. Since I was continually being told that resources to support programming were nonexistent, I decided to see if I could create an arts program without requesting funding.


Kept busy with my fulltime job as Director of Arts Education for LA’s BEST, I used vacation time to start LAartlab, and continued as a volunteer during my off hours. With the help of friends, what was originally intended to be a five-month experiment, somehow developed into a project celebrating its 5thand final year on April 30. Today, LAartlab remains an independent, self-funded, all volunteer project helping 9th through 12th grade students from all academic achievement levels engage in various facets of the Los Angeles  art scene  and the global creative economy by providing hands-on opportunities  to  help design, produce and host  free public art events, and support art events produced by others. By working on these events, students are able to see themselves as creative and socially connected artists, and develop practical and transferable decision-making, consensus-building, and organizing skills.


I want to take this opportunity to thank some very special people who helped LAartlab succeed. Clement Hanami, Fabrizio Flores, Linda Gamboa, Paola Davila, Elizabeth Morin, and Rick Klotz at FreshJive, for supporting us at the very beginning. Jane Paterson, Lincoln HS and ARTlab HS for helping us work with so many students. Ximena Minotta and Cendi Dale from LA Plaza De Cultura y Artes for making our scholarships possible.  My colleagues at LA’s BEST for their encouragement. The amazing Larry Mowery, for inviting LAartlab into Lincoln HS, supporting every project, and his ongoing dedication to providing students with the opportunities they deserve. And finally, a huge thank you to all of our partners since 2009, without their continued support none of this would have been possible


We pulled together a list of the LAartlab projects that have taken place since 2009, the numbers were even bigger than we expected. Most of these projects were led by LAartlab from start to finish, and weled or supported parts of others.


1.       On The Spot – Impromptu Street Interviews at LA Art Walk 2009

2.       Aquarius – Music Festival Tropico de Nopal

3.       HAVOC – Streetwear Design Panel at Japanese American National Museum (YouTube

4.       Of The Word – All day Family Art projects at MOCA

5.       Metaphoria – Evening of Spoken Word at MOCA

6.       Backyards, Front Porches, and other Living Spaces – Exhibit at Gallery Washington Adams

7.       Sand One – Artist-led Mural Field Trip

8.       Shizu Saldamando – Artist Talk at Lincoln HS

9.       Cre8 Mural Project – at Lincoln HS

10.   Bergamot Station gallery walk – Fieldtrip

11.   Online Event Production Tips – Pepsi Refresh Project

12.   BBoy Summit 2010 - 3 Day Event Support

13.   Humanitas Arts Festival – Wagner Student event at The LA Music Center

14.   180 – Exhibit and Spoken Word at Ave 50 Studio

15.   Grand Opening Public Art Workshops  - LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes Museum

16.   TEDx @ Kohler St. 2011 – Inner City Arts 

17.   Possible Worlds Street Festival – for LACMA at Watts House Project

18.   Virgin of Guadalupe Day – Card Printing at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes Museum  

19.   Tiger Fest – Lincoln HS Arts Festival at Lincoln HS

20.   Day of the Dead 2011 / Memorials- LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes Museum

21.   Ana Sosa and KPCC – Radio Interview

22.   Siqueiros - LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes Museum

23.   Poetry Behind Bars: Richard Rodriguez and Guests – Reading and Student-led Conversation at Lincoln HS

24.   Ana Sosa at Slanguage Studio – Outdoor Mural

25.   Me Facing Life Screening - Screening and Student-led Panel with Director and producer at Lincoln HS

26.   Cinco De Mayo at LA Plaza – Banner Workshops at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes Museum

27.   Legit – Student Curated Exhibit at Ave 50 Studio

28.   Celebrating Cantinflas – Animation Flipbooks at Plaza de La Raza de Cultura y Artes Museum

29.   TEDx @ Kohler St.  2012 – Inner City Arts

30.   American Idiot Musical Teen Night – Center Theatre Group

31.   Open Soul – Spoken Word event at Ave 50 Studio

32.   BBoy Summit 2012 – 3 Day Event Support

33.   WWII for Made in LA and Slanguage - Spoken Word, Music and Performance at LA><ART

34.   Shakespeare Project – Community Performance at Plaza de La Raza

35.   My LA Educator’s Night – Inner City Arts

36.   LA Youth Park Takeover – Public Printmaking Workshops at Grand Park

37.   Lincoln at Lincoln –  Lucas Films Screening at Lincoln HS

38.   Cre8 Mural Project – Outdoor Mural at Lincoln HS

39.   Inocente and Caine’s Arcade Screening – Screening at Lincoln HS

40.   Mouth Burst – Spoken Word at Avenue 50 Studio

41.   Inocente and Caine’s Arcade Screening - Inner City Arts

42.   Viva La Fashion at CFAM – Fashion Show with CSULA at Craft and Folk Art Museum

43.   Cesar Chavez Day 2014 – Workshops Plaza de La Raza de Cultura y Artes Museum

44.   Cesar Chavez Bowl – Healthy Salad Public Salad Bar at Lincoln HS


Plus, when organizations hire LAartlab to implement workshops, all proceeds are pooled to fund scholarships and other event related expenses. Since 2011, LAartlab teens have awarded six $500 LAartlab Artist Scholarships to Lincoln HS Graduates.





Mario Davila