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MOCA x Art Rise: Crenshaw Dairy Mart and Los Angeles Poverty Department
MOCA x Art Rise: Crenshaw Dairy Mart and Los Angeles Poverty Department

MOCA x Art Rise: Crenshaw Dairy Mart and Los Angeles Poverty Department

As part of its groundbreaking WE RISE initiative, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) is hosting a month-long series of free community programs, events and experiences highlighting the healing powers of art and connection during Mental Health Awareness Month in May. This year, WE RISE 2021 includes Art Rise, a series of 21 art experiences, along with community pop-ups and more than 50 hyperlocal activities across Los Angeles County neighborhoods.

MOCA is proud to participate via two projects with partner organizations Crenshaw Dairy Mart and Los Angeles Poverty Department. Crenshaw Dairy Mart’s abolitionist pod (prototype) is a garden in the form of a geodesic dome—the first prototype for a design the group hopes to implement across Los Angeles in an ambitious effort to create community gardening and collective gathering spaces across the city. Los Angeles Poverty Department’s project The New Compassionate Downtown is a performance with a cast of eleven performers who live and work in Skid Row, coming together to imagine a downtown LA that attracts people who value wisdom and compassion instead of nightlife and dining.


Los Angeles Poverty Department
The New Compassionate Downtown, 2021 Performance
Commissioned by MOCA for WE RISE 2021

Downtown LA has long been marketed as a nightlife destination. Los Angeles Poverty Department’s The New Compassionate Downtown dares to imagine a downtown that attracts people who value the wisdom and compassionate practice exemplified by Skid Row workers and residents. In The New Compassionate Downtown, an alternative marketing approach touts downtown as “a place you can live guilt and resentment free. No longer will the subterranean guilt of ignoring privilege haunt you, and through psychological displacement manifest itself as anger.” Work on the performance began pre-pandemic and explores themes that have gained resonance in the past year. The performance is set at a meeting of The New Compassionate Downtown, a diverse group of people living and working in all parts of downtown, who embrace building a community of compassion. The performance cuts from the meeting to scenes that concretely explore compassion, in action, as life unfolds daily. The performance, staged in a socially distant manner by a cast of eleven performers, is live streamed and recorded.

Los Angeles Poverty Department is a performance group of people who live and work in Skid Row. All the cast members have contributed to this script. The performance is directed by John Malpede and Henriëtte Brouwers.


Crenshaw Dairy Mart (Patrisse Cullors, Alexandre Dorriz, noé olivas)
abolitionist pod (prototype), 2021
Modular geodesic dome containing autonomous garden
Commissioned by MOCA for WE RISE 2021

Crenshaw Dairy Mart’s installation speaks to their imagination of a world lived within an abolitionist mainframe, one where the disastrous effects of racism and structural inequity on pandemic response might have been mitigated, to help us ask the questions: Where can we go for people to cry and grieve? What do we want our bodies to feel like (again)? Crenshaw Dairy Mart describes its project at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary an “Abolitionist Self-Sustaining Pod and Autonomous Garden." It is a community garden in the form of a geodesic dome, and is the first prototype for a design the group hopes to implement across Los Angeles. The MOCA presentation will thus be the launching pad for CDM’s ambitious effort to create community gardening and collective gathering spaces across the city. abolitionist pod (prototype) will be a cornerstone of #PrayforLA, which
will emerge through a series of installations across the City of Angels as healing centers, sanitation stations, and greenhouses in the form of circular domes and pods. The installations utilize space frames and are modular, with the aim of eventually being used for a pilot program to combat houselessness, food insecurity, and Covid-19 in Los Angeles.

MOCA x Art Rise is organized by Rebecca Lowery, Assistant Curator, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

abolitionist pod (prototype) is supported, in part, by Art Rise, a project of WERISE.LA, an initiative of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, with generous support from the Environmental Council of The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Participating urban gardeners and farmers include The WOW Flower Project, CSU, Ambiguous Digz, Urban Soul Farmer, Hereticgardener, The plant plug LA, Farm for a future, Sylmar HS - Agriculture Class, and Te’Amir Sweeney.

This work is part of Art Rise, a series of over fifteen outdoor art installations in and around Downtown Los Angeles, commissioned especially for WE RISE—an initiative of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health that encourages wellbeing and healing through art, connection, community engagement, and creative expression. For more information and to see a complete Art Rise map, please visit werise.la.

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