With his latest project, art enthusiast and curator Warren Brand has managed to bring new life to an ordinary urban space while bringing a community together. Surrounding himself with artists, neighbors and kindred spirits, he allowed a whole block of abandoned buildings to blossom into a vibrant, living work of art. As the result of many years of love, art and memories is about to get torn down, he’s working on immortalizing the experience through a documentary, which he hopes to get funded through IndieGogo. We had the chance to chat a little bit with the man behind the Branded Arts Complex, an inclusive and positive project that’s sure to inspire and to soon be reborn.
LF: Hello Warren, could you kindly introduce yourself to our readers?
WB: My name is Warren Brand. I am an art curator and art enthusiast from Los Angeles. I’ve been into art and collectables all my life. My mom is a painter and my dad was a collector of vintage movie posters, rock & roll memorabilia, and rare coins. I started very young collecting sports cards, comic books, and sneakers. Graffiti and Animation really inspired me as a youngster, so I guess you could say that collecting art was a natural progression for me. In 2010 I started a multi-platform art company called Branded Arts. Over the last 4 years, we have produced and curated several large-scale art exhibitions along with over 60 public mural projects around Los Angeles. The “Branded Arts Complex” at 8810 Washington Blvd. in Culver City is our most renowned project.
LF: How did the Culver City project begin?
I am always in Culver City. I love the blossoming art scene there. In August 2010, I hosted the first Branded Arts exhibition at a vacant warehouse on Washington Blvd. in Culver. Over 1,500 people attended the event! We had a kids choir sing and Macy Gray performed a few songs too! Since then, the owner of the building has given me permission to curate large-scale mural projects on the exterior of the building. It has been a great experience working with awesome artists from around the world and watching them paint, along with getting to meet people from all over the community. City Hall also played a role in granting us permission to paint on the site.
LF: Which artists did you collaborate with on this project?
The list is pretty long. We have had well over 35 artists participate on this project! Here are some: DabsMyla (AUS), Herakut (GER), Anthony Lister (AUS), Rime (USA), Case (GER), David Flores (USA), Cyrcle (USA), Andrew Hem (USA), Yoskay Yamamoto (USA), Miss Van (FRA), Dan Quintana (USA), Shark Toof (USA), Surge (USA), Hush (UK), Gaia (USA), Handiedan (NED), Stormie Mills (AUS), Robert Standish (USA), Duncan Lemmon (USA), 0ne0f0ne (USA), Muro (ESP), Slick (USA), 123 Klan (CAN), Clinton Bopp (NZ), New2 (BEL), Ekundayo (USA), Jurne (USA), Steven Daily (USA), Bumblebee (USA), Zio Zeigler (USA), Skullphone (USA), Meggs (AUS), Nosego (USA), Angry Woebots (USA), Matt Dimon (USA).
LF: What do you think you’ve achieved with the project?
WB: I am really proud of this building. It has transformed from an anonymous, empty lot to one of the largest collections of murals in the world. There are not many other places like it. From commuters riding the nearby Metro or driving down Washington Blvd., to students who pass the complex everyday on their way to school, these walls have been not only a welcome beautification of a neighborhood, but an inspiration to an entire community as well. As we’ve seen, the Branded Arts complex has provided a successful model for neighborhood development that can provide a strong example to greater Los Angeles and a case study for the positive impact of street art on local communities around the nation.
LF: Could you tell us a little bit more about your upcoming documentary on the projects and the Indiegogo campaign?
WB: The Branded Arts Complex is set to be demolished next month to make way for a new shopping center. We always knew this day would eventually come. I will always be grateful to the building owner for giving me the opportunity to curate these walls. The film company Poolhouse Productions has been filming with me for the past year, chronicling the evolution of the building. As with all street art, we knew these walls were only temporary. When the complex is demolished, many of the pieces will be gone, but their legacy will live on through this film. We feel that this process is too important to simply become a distant memory, and are putting our footage together with the goal of creating a film about the project. This film will allow future generations to appreciate the extraordinary amount of blood, sweat and paint that went into this incredible collection of murals. We have launched an IndieGOGO campaign to help fund the film. Any contribution helps. Please spread the word and repost!
LF: What are your long-term dreams with this project?
WB: We were able to professionally remove 5 of the murals that were on plywood prior to the scheduled demo. The rest are on concrete and cannot be saved. I recently had a meeting with the art department head, principal, and superintendent of Culver City High School. We have been given the green light to effectively repurpose and install these art works for permanent display at the school.
LF: Anything we should look out for in your near future?
WB: We believe in the transformative power of art and the importance of arts education. Going forward, we would like to commission famous artists to paint public murals at local properties, developments, youth centers, recreation centers, and schools. Our aim is to send an inspirational message with these art projects, give people a creative outlet, and to always display positive imagery. With public school budget cutbacks significantly impacting art programs around the country, we feel that it is up to independent organizations like Branded Arts to help facilitate and introduce art to young people. We will be hosting a large scale art event next month at the Santa Monica Boys & Girls Club. Stay tuned for more info on that coming soon!
LF: How fast do you live?
WB: Pretty fast! Great projects and opportunities sometimes happen quickly and unexpectedly, but I am always ready for it. I feel very blessed to get to work with so many wonderful artists from around the world that I admire and respect. You can always catch me at different art galleries checking out my favorites artists and learning about new ones everyday!
Be sure to support Warren’s IndieGogo project here!