Nude Art LA - An Expression of the Human Spirit


Saturday night on the corner of 4th Place and Hewitt Street in Downtown LA’s Arts District, there was a line of people stretching out from the Art Share LA’s studio door entrance. Awaiting inside the doors was an artistic amalgamation of the naked form—produced in painting, performance, photography and more. Nude Art LA is a pop-up art exhibition/live show that celebrates the human form at its barest and on showcases like these, creators, performers and lovers of art gather together to observe, wonder, and appreciate the human body in all of its glorious shapes and sizes.

Browsing through the 28,000 square foot facility of the Art Share LA, I could see that I was visiting a zoo for living and breathing art. The hallways were lined with paintings and portrayals of the naked form—some in portraits of realism, others existing in a more abstract world constructed from clay, stone, and even recycled objects. The subjects in the portraits ranged from somber to bold, humorous to tantalizing, with some figures stretching their bodies out on a bed or, like in Eric Wallis’s “Spring Girl” painting below, out in nature. Others artists like Irina Malkmus, showcased a versatile collection of surreal and synthetic works, a piece of which she completed during the art showcase. I admired the works of several other artists and performers including model Sara Podwol, who demonstrated an impressive display of graceful yoga stances, and artist Lajon Miller, who completed a live painting highlighting his signature violently pink subjects on a canvas cloth.

The facility was made of several different rooms, each one containing a different set of art styles and mediums, and one main room with live singing, belly dancing, and other performances (not necessarily all nude). One of the most memorable experiences happened in the drawing room. Guests could go in and take a seat, grab a sketchbook and pencil, and get 5 minutes to sketch a model. So along with adding “attending a nude art show” to their list of experiences, guests could now add “sketching a live nude model.” But the experience was personally memorable to me not because of the novelty of it, rather because I realized (as my untrained hand and eye attempted to make a decent sketch of the figure) that this was the first time in a LONG time that I actually tried to earnestly draw something. Outside of the artist community, most adults don’t spend time drawing anything, other than the occasional doodle that one might lazily scrawl on work documents. It was an oddly wholesome childlike feeling and I decided then that I would spend more time drawing.  

In addition to featuring live nude models and performers, the showcase allowed for guests to come dressed down. On their site, the dress code suggests cocktail attire but also permits “sheer clothing, body paint, and topless nudity” with a rule that genitalia must be covered at all times. Curious as it was to see someone decked out with almost nothing but a mask and full on body paint, the overall vibe of the event felt safe, exciting and welcoming.

What Nude Art LA accomplished with this event (and continues to accomplish) isn’t simply an opportunity for artists to share and sell their work. It creates a place where one’s thoughts and insecurities (both physical and emotional) could be forgotten, and in place, sets a reminder that the human naked form is a natural work of art.

Coverage by Rosario Diaz

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