Honoring Skid Row as a home to artists, activists, community

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Honoring Skid Row as a home to artists, activists, community

LA Times
By Julissa James

Hundreds of artists are set to parade through the streets of Skid Row on Saturday, a brass band booming behind them, in a biennial celebration known as Walk the Talk, which has taken place in Los Angeles since 2012.

Put on by the Los Angeles Poverty Department — a performance group and arts program founded by director-performer-activist John Malpede in 1985 — the parade honors the neighborhood’s artists, activists and community members.

“We wanted to acknowledge the breadth of people that are engaged with bettering the community, and especially the residents who might not be as visible as some of the other people,” Malpede said. Too many people see Skid Row as a transient space, and, in many ways, Walk the Talk is about acknowledging Skid Row as a home, including a home to artists.

“Skid Row, it’s a gregarious community,” Malpede says.

Along the route Saturday, several people will be holding up smiling portraits of themselves, part of a long-held tradition in which the parade honors people from the neighborhood. This year’s portraits were created by Armenian artist Hayk Makhmuryan, who imagines honorees as landmarks of the neighborhood.