How to Be[come] the Arts District in 24 Steps:
Step One: Have a garage called Pierce’s Garage and use a post-war font in a nostalgic red and paint the building so it looks like a faded sunset (light blue at the top, a thin line, a smudged white and peach base hitting the street). Make sure it has more texture than the sky – the sky is much too smooth, too much like a bowl, this must be more like a well-used breadboard.
Step Two: Use grout in your brickwork that will one day start to work its way out, like its growing, make sure it grows out furry and rough.
Step Three: Have big grey carpark buildings that collide into the street like guillotines and skew in the middle, like something fell and was caught.
Step Four: Coil up your barbed wire as if around a finger and stretch it out tentatively around everything else.
Step Five: Use lots of that old wavy glass, gridded by some mysterious lines, lumpy, and also barely there with black frames and badly taped-in white paint on the inside so the edges of the glass are like seafoam, and spraypaint “DEMONS” on at least one window with yellow paint.
Step Six: Put a planter full of hay under one of these windows and leave an empty cigarette carton in there. Make sure this is sky blue and branded “Natural American Spririt” with a stylised image of a Native American chief. It is crucial that centuries of pain and suffocation are used to market future pain and suffocation. Add a surgeon’s warning as an afterthought.
Step Seven: At number 428 Hewit Street have an old light up sign that doesn’t light up anymore.
Step Eight: Use loads of tie-backs on your brick buildings and rotate their little diamonds so they look like square nipples.
Step Nine: Use the old wing of a plane as your bar sign and make sure there are other bits of planes around the place in case you want to piece them together and fly away.
Step Ten: Let the city loom over you but don’t let it swallow you.
Step Eleven: Don’t let it swallow you.
Step Twelve: Have a hipster coffee store and name it after a planet, but spell it wrong. Include a rotating LA-pool-blue sign on the roof – like the planet you named it after [Urth].
Cast blurry shadows on the road that fool street dwellers into respite from the heat.
Step Fourteen: Cast hard ones too.
Step Fifteen: Have a park but make sure you wrap it in AT LEAST a 2.4m (8ft) tall fence. Have a playground inside it which is also fenced. This fence only has to be 1.2m (4ft) because children are short.
Step Sixteen: Get a police officer dressed in all black with green-framed sunglasses who walks wide (like there’s a cat between his legs) and have him check his watch often while he rests his hands on his gun.
Step Seventeen: Paint all your buildings white and grey and beige like a canvas for all the murals.
Step Eighteen: Make one of these murals the same pair of wings twice, one side open, one side closed. Figure out how to turn yourself inward and outward, figure out how to be both.
Step Nineteen: Have curled fingers of steel on the top of your buildings so people imagine themselves impaled as they walk past.
Step Twenty: Have your dumpsters painted so they too become art.
Step Twenty-One: Have a green-gatsby-light over a garage door half obscured by a retractable gate [change the object of desire].
Step Twenty-Two: Don’t spell check your grafitti so you when someone writes “her eyes like emotion censors sensors,” you have to cross out censors with a “c” and add sensors with an “s.” Leave the intentionality of this ambiguous.
Step Twenty-Three: Have a lot of lights on, forest green ones, yellow, like the skin on country teeth, orange, small and bright and pointless in the sun. Leave the lights on. Leave the lights on.
Leave the lights on for me.
By Tessa Forde