The second Saturday of each month brings kids and crowds to art galleries in Highland Park, Glassell Park and Eagle Rock, otherwise known as NELA, or Northeast Los Angeles. The NELA Art Walk - which is much easier to bike than to walk - is an open house for galleries on Eagle Rock, Colorado and York Boulevards as well as Figueroa Street. You could choose to spend your whole night on just one of these streets, but to catch the best galleries you’ll have to make it to all four. Let us help!
Although Figueroa isn’t the epicenter of NELA’s Art Walk, it is the origin. As the traditional high street of Highland Park, Figueroa is home to the NELA Arts Council as well as the flamboyant Chicken Boy Shop and Future Studio Gallery, which is basically ground zero for this artist community. Chicken Boy, a mysterious statue atop the building with a man’s body and a chicken’s head, has been a Highland Park landmark for generations and somehow a symbol for culturally relevant contemporary art.
Across the street, don’t miss Book Show, an eclectic bookstore and poetry venue for the dedicated low-brow literati. Just off of Figueroa is Avenue 50 Studio, a gallery with a focus on Latin culture that is rooted in the neighborhood’s highly Latinx population. Further south, Flying Pigeon Bike Shop and Antigua Coffee House (which roasts its own delicious Guatemalan beans) are worth a drop-in too.
The hub on York
Cross over to York Boulevard for most of the action. Nearly every shop is an art gallery, music venue or cafe hosting rowdy crowds and excited art lovers. The main action is between Avenue 54 and Avenue 50, where a thriving gallery culture is interspersed with lively restaurants and bars. Don’t miss incredible ice cream at Scoops or the Mexican-American-inspired interior design of Elsa’s Bakery while you’re checking out the Vintage Tattoo Art Parlor next door. Just at the fringe of the excitement is Panorama Press House, just off of York at Avenue 47. It’s an authentic stationery printing press that births beautiful, cheeky and heartfelt greeting cards behind two large barn doors.
Stop for a drink at The York, the street’s favorite gastropub with local brews on tap. Down the street, the Highland Park Brewery has even more local brews (in-house!) and a thriving scene, too.
Eagle Rock's stopovers
You’ll find a less concentrated group of galleries on Eagle Rock Boulevard, but the street is still worth a wander. The upscale Good Eye Gallery has a blend of furniture, art and gifts for sale, while also hosting gallery shows for local artists. Leanna Lin’s Wonderland is a gallery of cuteness aimed at kids and families, but it’s fun for everybody in that Hello Kitty type of way. Electrical boxes painted with colorful murals point the way to fun galleries and tell you that there’s art and food trucks nearby. You can also escape from the hipness for a moment at All Star Lanes, a bowling alley and karaoke joint that’s been a neighborhood mainstay “since before it was cool”.
You might be interested in these Airbnbs!
Although fewer Colorado galleries participate, the street is still worth a little jaunt, especially because of good food in this neighborhood (check out the Coffee Table Bistro or Cafe Beaujolais). Students from Renarts Academy, who produce their own cool collages and paintings, can be found exhibiting their art on the street or wandering the nearby galleries. A few doors down from RenArts, New Age Stone Mosaics produces work that’s a cross between sacred stained glass patterns and hip figures made of stone and tile. The artist does mosaic pet portraits, fine art and just about everything in between.
A long night with lots of worthwhile stops
Although traversing all of NELA’s streets and boulevards can make for a rather long evening, you’ll be glad you took in all that the gallery trail has to offer. And who knows? You might find that perfect gift or piece of art to take home, too.
Get Trip101 in your inbox