Scrolls unroll at LAVA’s first Sunday Salon

On March 28, LAVA put out a call for culturally curious Angelenos to gather in the upstairs dining room of Downtown’s historic Clifton’s Cafeteria for our first monthly Sunday Salon.

We hoped a couple dozen people might take us up on the offer, but the LAVA party filled half the huge room easily, and the volume of enthusiastic conversation and pie fork rattling presented a challenge when Arts District curator and LAVA Visionary Terry Ellsworth got up, without amplification, to bring the afternoon’s proceedings to order.

An impromptu catwalk of dining tables had been constructed in the middle of the room for the auspicious first exhibition anywhere of LAVA Visionary Gene Sculatti’s unfurled cityscape scroll drawings. Following Terry’s short introduction which placed Gene’s work in its context as something done from the heart and for no other audience than himself, Gene stepped forward to unroll an early cityscape, a primitive imaginary California city drawn when he was about 15/16 years old (circa 1962-63). This charming juvenile work impressed the audience, and they enjoyed peering close as Gene pointed out family in-jokes and favorite buildings and human characters (an element which disappeared from later scrolls).

But when he unrolled his current cityscape, three years in the works, the mature Gene Sculatti style blew everyone away–among them several close friends of many years standing who had no idea that he’d been nurturing a secret life as an outsider artist. Folks leaned in close over the dense and cohesive city, exclaiming over the exquisite color sense, compelling rhythms and seemingly endless surprise details running along the length of the table. After about half an hour, as Gene rolled up his scrolls and returned them to his shoulder bag, there were small sounds of disappointment and a strong sense that something truly extraordinary had been shared.

The party broke up around 2pm, with a number of attendees heading west on Seventh Street to take LAVA founder Richard Schave’s “The Flâneur & The City: Historic Core” walking tour. The Sunday Salon was a wonderful first gathering for the larger LAVA community, and we look forward to future Sunday Salons, when we’ll shine the spotlight on more members of the Visionary community and encourage anyone who’d like to be a part of this new cultural consortium to join us for hearty comfort food, good company and unexpected discoveries like Gene Sculatti’s cityscapes.

The Sunday Salon is always held on the last Sunday of the month, from noon to 2pm upstairs in Clifton’s Cafeteria at 7th & Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles. Put it in your calendar, and we hope you’ll join us on April 25, for surprises soon to be announced.

And if you missed this one, here are some photos to whet your whistle.