Eight Silly Questions: With Branded Arts Building Curator Warren Brand

The Branded Arts building, a block west of Washington and National, is surely one of Culver City's great treasures. And for that we can thank Warren Brand.

With permission from the owner of the condemned building, Brand has invited muralists from all over the world -- including Andrew HemCYRCLEDavid Flores, and Herakut -- to create public art works that are both beautiful and challenging. The building, which is almost literally in the shadow of the new Expo Line Station and will be torn down in the next year, is a living symbol of the metamorphosis that this area of Culver City is undergoing. 

I recently spoke to Brand about the his plans for Branded Arts building and his upcoming art show at Smashbox Studios.

1) What do you consider to be the overall goal or meaning of the Branded Arts building, as a mural space?

The overall goal of the Branded Arts building is to showcase some of my favorite artists and help beautify the community. I believe that this is a great way to showcase real artists and discourage unnecessary graffiti vandalism. Anyone who wants to paint on someone’s property should have all the proper permissions to do so. We want the murals to always have a positive connotation to them all, nothing too unsightly or negative.

2) What is your relationship with Culver City? What permissions are required to create the murals at the Branded Arts building site?

I am always in Culver City, It’s not far from my home in Santa Monica, and I love the blossoming art scene. In August 2010, I hosted the first Branded Arts gallery opening. Over 1,000 people attended the event in Culver City where Grammy award-winning singer, Macy Gray, gave a special musical performance and the Witness To A Dream Children’s Choir sang their hearts out in front of media-outlets, entertainment industry professionals, art-collectors, and philanthropists. The owner of the building and I have been working together since the art opening and producing large scale mural projects on the exterior of the building. It has been a great experience working with these artists, gallery owners, and meeting people from all over the community while watching the murals being painted. City Hall also played a role in granting us permission to paint on the site.

3) You say that the Branded Arts building is scheduled to be torn down within the year. Why is that, and wouldn’t the muralists you work with prefer that their works be permanent?

The Branded Arts building will be torn down by its owner sometime in 2012, but until then we have decided to keep creating and keep painting. It will be a sad day when the building comes down, but I will definitely continue with facilitating mural projects along with curating art events throughout the city. The goal is to find walls with great street visibility so drivers can have something to see during their daily commutes. The artists like having the great visibility, even if the murals will come crashing down next year. The murals will always live in photographs as well.

4) Who are your favorite artists right now and from the past? Who would you love to work with?

Some of my favorite artists right now have to be from the Los Angeles urban art movement and the rapidly growing pop-surrealism movement. I love what is happening in the European and Asian art scenes as well. Growing up in Los Angeles, I have been exposed to many varieties of art. I am grateful to have grown up where I did. Right now my favorite artists include Greg "Craola" Simkins, Mark Ryden, Takashi Murakami, Damien Hirst, Josh Keyes, Nick Walker, and Audrey Kawasaki to name a few. There are so many I like! Some artists from the past that I would some day like to own works from would have to include MC Escher (my dad's favorite) Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Salvador Dali.

5) What is the Branded Arts event on November 5th at Smashbox Studios and why should people go?

Branded Arts is a mega gallery opening and a mega party with live music and live painting.  This art exhibition will feature some of the most prolific artists of our time alongside never before seen work from some of LA's rising stars. My goal is to help some of my favorite young artists make a name for themselves while also displaying some of my all time favorite artists in the show.  I have been an art fan and collector all of my life, so I want to share my love of art with everyone else around me.

6) The event benefits the Witness To A Dream Foundation. What is that?

Witness To A Dream (WTAD) is a 501(c)3 organization founded in 2008 by Tom Sturges and Regina Boutte that provides caring mentors to Los Angeles inner city students. WTAD Foundation enables inner city at risk public school children to meet individuals who are willing to take the time and put forward the effort to inspire them to greatness through mentoring.  I want all children to have a positive role model in their lives so I have been hosting large-scale art fundraiser events under Branded Arts, LLC to help benefit this charity    The Witness To A Dream children's choir will be performing on Nov 5th. You can check them out on the video page on brandedarts.com

7) You seem to have had a deep bond with your father. Tell me who he was to you?

My father was my mentor and best friend, he was an avid collector as well, he collected everything from vintage movie poster to coins and Americana. He lived his life to the fullest, enjoyed doing the things he was passionate about, and always had that same easy going smile and personality to go with it.  He was an honest and smart businessman too, and became very successful in his life. He always told me to pursue my dreams and passions, and Branded Arts is just that.

8) Do you have plans to get murals up on any of the other walls of the Branded Arts building?

These mural projects will most certainly continue! Stay tuned and make sure to become a fan of our Branded Arts page on facebook.com/brandedarts



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