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Art Gallery Unveils L.A.'s Hidden Talents

Paige Brettingen |
September 12, 2011 | 9:22 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Eiko Yoshii beams as she stands next to her art -- a water color of a woman in a royal blue kimono -- at the Lamp Community's new art gallery on Skid Row.  The gallery's Sept. 8 opening is brimming with canvases that have taken weeks or months to perfect. Ranging from watercolors to Los Angeles cityscapes to different versions of Mona Lisa, each artist's individuality shines through. Yoshii is one of the gifted homeless artists there.

Lamp artist Jerome Robertson shows his artwork (Paige Brettingen)
Lamp artist Jerome Robertson shows his artwork (Paige Brettingen)

"People called Picasso crazy, but now everyone loves him," she says. "That means I can do it too!" Thanks to the Lamp Art Project, she can.  

Begun 25 years ago, the Lamp Community is a facility for L.A.’s homeless, particularly those who struggle with mental illness. Lamp seeks to permanently end homelessness by using their “Housing First” approach. Once their guests have the basic necessities, Lamp then supports them with individualized services to ensure self-sufficiency. They also support their artistic talents. 
   
As the Lamp Art Project's manager, Hayk Makhmuryan makes sure the energy always stays positive and that it is a "safe and nurturing space for creativity," he says. He works with them- artist to artist- and invites them to explore new ideas. 
   
In addition to working on their individual pieces, the artists work to encourage one another as well.
   
"Everyone was so talented that I was inspired.  I prayed that one day I would be able to get in, and here I am!" says Jerome Robertson who showcased a few finished pieces as well as his works-in-progress: a painting of Adam and Eve and one of Einstein.

Gary Brown is another Lamp artist who recognizes the gifts he has -- both art and the Lamp Community.

He laughs at how he's on a professional level now, and the artwork he stands beside reflects it: a painting one may describe as cartoon surrealism with a vibrant checkered backdrop.

"I'm thankful we have what we have," he shares.

Lamp's art gallery is located at 526 S. San Pedro St. in Los Angeles and will be open in conjunction with the monthly Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk; purchases of art work goes toward supplementing the artists' incomes.  To learn more about the Lamp Community and the Lamp Art Project, visit their website.

Read more of our coverage of the Lamp Art Project here and here

Reach Paige here

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