From the outside, it looks like an unassuming 1940s home on Alhambra Avenue in Los Angeles’ El Sereno neighborhood.
But Now Space is anything but nondescript.
Sculptor and former product designer Astrelle Johnquest runs the hybrid vintage store, art gallery and experimental space as a continuation of a project she started years ago.
While an undergraduate at Otis College of Art and Design, Johnquest organized a pop-up shop for her final thesis project. She experimented with alternative forms of exchange and bartering.
Fast-forward a few years to the present, when Now Space is “an extension of my art practice,” even as she accepts traditional payment methods instead.
Located within an area zoned for industrial use in El Sereno, Now Space is open weekend afternoons and by appointment.
Johnquest formally began her business as a temporary holiday seasonal shopping and “Sunday bazaar” series last November, “but I kept it going because I had so much fun, and people were responding to it,” she said.
Now Space’s ever-changing inventory from her ongoing estate sale and thrift store escapades might include a Danish modern dining set, Nelson bubble lamps, kitschy ceramic birds and vintage magazines, along with original contemporary artwork. She also stocks small circus-sideshow-inspired illustrations by her mother, Massachusetts-based artist Amy Johnquest, plus Lena Wolek's ceramics and silk-screened pillows by Sebastian Boher.
Now Space also occasionally hosts live music performances, and Johnquest is planning larger-scale installations in a nearby warehouse, which was originally a World War II-era shell manufacturing facility. (It’s directly behind the shop and currently functions as her studio. The cluster of buildings that backs onto freight train tracks is also covered with striking graffiti murals.)
Now Space even has an artist-in-residence program. Brooklyn-based Rachel Sussman recently filled sidewalk cracks with enamel and gold dust as part of her "Sidewalk Kintsukuroi" installation and photography series, based on the Japanese ceramic tradition of kintsukuroi (meaning “to repair with gold”). Muralist, sculptor and quilter Eliza Fernand from Grand Rapids, Mich. visited in April.
Now Space will always be an ongoing work in progress that Johnquest is eager to develop and see unfold.
“I realized there’s so much I can do with this,” she said.
Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
Images by Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times