Excavating Future Culture on the Miracle Mile
by Shana Nys Dambrot
"Excavating Future Culture on the Miracle Mile." That's more than a clever motto, it's the inspiration and motivation behind the wildly popular annual culture event Tar Fest, returning the La Brea Tar Pits Park on September 22, 2012 with a free celebration of LA's robust indie culture scene through art, music, and people-watching in one of the city's most historic green-spaces and a hidden gem among public lands.
Reminiscent of New York's Bryant Park, the famed mid-city oasis adjacent to the 42nd Street Public Library which often hosts free cultural and political events, the potential for the La Brea Tar Pits Park to be a hub of vibrant convergence for families and flaneurs of all ages is activated to best advantage with events like Tar Fest. An active archaeological dig site for more than 100 years, the park is a dynamic place where the past and the present are on display side-by-side, bookended by two museum campuses and a certain collective childhood memory of the Flintstones' visit to the Pits in their ancient heyday. (One could say it's been a landmark attraction for eons.) Think Sunday in the Park with Mastodons; think about the delight of discovering and activating an urban secret garden, a green cultural oasis right in the middle of the Miracle Mile; think about the amazing fact that a live archaeological site, still rich with hot, bubbling tar from deep inside the earth's crust and still yielding fossils to this day, exists a single block away from the SAG offices -- that's the real Los Angeles.
In these uncertain times, the importance of artists -- all artists -- musicians and visual artists -- to give back to their communities and to inspire other emerging artists and young people is even more magnified. With each new commitment from a musician, an artist, a writer, a sponsor, or a volunteer, Tar Fest builds momentum -- continuing its evolving history as something extremely special and important to the surrounding community and the whole city.
Events like Tar Fest encourage people to get outside and interact with their neighbors, countering the car-culture and in-home entertainment-system isolation of today's world with something green and hip, connecting past, present, and future in one spirits-raising, space-activating, shared experience. And what better way to bring people together than with free, outdoor, late-summer music from today's most interesting independent artists. Unless, of course, it's a free concert and food trucks...
LAUNCH is not-for-profit social enterprise created to produce, manage and direct events, programs and exhibitions for the purpose of developing artist - audience relationships throughout important Los Angeles communities. Passionate about promoting all contemporary art-forms and their hybrids, LAUNCH recognizes the need for exemplary productions that create important cultural happenings. With the assistance of commercial partners, cultural institutions and like-minded individuals and organizations, LAUNCH strives to engage a broad cross section of Angelenos in cultural events that foster mutual understanding and creative expression.