A Do-It-Yourself Art Team
The One-Two Punch of Dover and Jill Abrams
And Their Infusion Gallery
Dover Abrams is something of a
jack-of-all-trades. The dreadlocked 34-year-old and his wife, Jill,
own Infusion Gallery on Main Street. But Dover is also an artist,
dealer and designer. It's all part of the couple's strictly
|Dover and Jill Abrams moved their gallery
from North Hollywood to Downtown two years ago. They
specialize in showing work by emerging and self-taught
artists. Photo by Gary Leonard.|
Housed in a two-story former sewing factory in
the Fashion District, Infusion is Gallery Row's largest art space at
10,000 square feet. The façade of the freestanding building is
covered with an abstract graffiti mural that crystallizes in the
middle just long enough to spell out the gallery's name in blocky
script. Inside are two large rooms with high ceilings, white walls
and concrete floors. On a recent visit, the air was sweet with
incense and colorful paintings graced nearly every surface.
Downtowners will be able to check it out this Thursday, Aug. 10 at
the monthly Downtown Artwalk.A Start on the Sidewalks
"When we first opened the
gallery, we tried to show anybody who wanted to show here," Dover
said, looking at Jill and laughing. "But that didn't work out. So we
had to get more realistic."
For their monthly shows, the
Abramses often pull from a pool of regularly exhibiting artists, but
the gallery still focuses on work by emerging and self-taught
artists - and its owners are not afraid to take a gamble. For
example, through Aug. 25, the gallery's front room holds the
cartoon-like paintings of little-known Australian artist David
Williams, whom the Abrams learned about through the Australian Art
"This guy lives way out in the desert," Dover
said. "He can't even get to a phone without doing some serious
traveling. So, all of his paintings were shipped and then I
stretched them when they got here."
Championing unknown artists (and often putting
some elbow grease into the effort) is nothing new to the Abrams.
They appeared on the art scene eight years ago, running an impromptu
gallery on the sidewalks of North Hollywood. It all began when
Dover, a self-taught graffiti artist, couldn't find a gallery
willing to exhibit his work, so he decided to show it himself -
along with pieces by other emerging artists.
"We did it
guerilla style," Dover recalled.
According to Dover, while a
lot of people liked the illegal sidewalk gallery, there was also
some "community outrage," which eventually drove the Abrams indoors.
In 1998, they hooked up with the then-struggling Lankershim Arts
Center and transformed the neglected space into a functioning
gallery with regular hours and monthly shows.
breathed life into that place," Jill said. "We did a lot of
community outreach and poured a lot of our own money into it."
Despite receiving positive feedback from the
community, two years ago the Abrams closed up shop in North
Hollywood and headed to Downtown Los Angeles in pursuit of
affordable rent and a burgeoning arts scene.A New Beginning, Again
The couple drove
around Downtown looking for the future home of Infusion Gallery,
which they found at 828 S. Main St., on the somewhat seedy southern
end of Gallery Row. They scraped together rent money and then
proceeded to scrape layers of old linoleum off the gallery floor. In
the three weeks between closing their Lankershim Arts Center space
and opening up Downtown, the Abrams knocked down walls, constructed
mobile dividers, refinished concrete floors and painted the vast
gallery space bright white.
Gallery's Downtown location has been successful - which the Abrams
measure by the fact that the gallery is financially self-sufficient
- yet another move is in sight. In May, Infusion began operating a
second Downtown location at 719 S. Spring St. At the end of October,
the Main Street gallery will close, leaving the Abrams with a single
"Unfortunately, the same thing that
happened in North Hollywood is happening here," Dover said,
referring to the area's escalating rents. "It's all speculative.
Landlords think that they are going to be able to get higher rents
for these spaces and that pushes us out."
But the Abrams are
not discouraged. In fact, they are enjoying operating both
galleries, for now, and look forward to moving permanently into the
Spring Street location at the beginning of November.
Jill pointed out, it is a good opportunity for Dover to capitalize
on his many skills. The new space, complete with a full-size stage,
required some renovations, involving tearing down what she called "a
drawbridge type thing" that dropped down and attached to the
Of course, there is plenty of art making and dealing
to do too.
Infusion Gallery is at 828 S. Main St. and 719
S. Spring St., (213) 683-8827 or infusiongallery.com. The Downtown
Artwalk is Thursday, Aug. 10, 12-9 p.m. or
Contact Lea Lion at email@example.com.
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