Tales of the American Interviews

"Tales of the American" filmmakers Pamela Wilson and Stephen Seemayer interviewed more than 100 artists, musicians, writers and others who have lived, worked and partied in and around the American Hotel over the past four decades. As new development and a growing population drasticallhy change the downtown landscape, Wilson and Seemayer hope to preserve memories of the vibrant art community that flourished there in the 1970s, '80s, '90s and early 2000s. These are the people who created the Arts District. Their recollections will be released (in alphabetical order) below and on a new YouTube channel, Tales of the American Interviews

Alex Koiv (Interviewed Jan. 23, 2014)

Alex Koiv moved to Los Angeles because it was the city she hated so much that she knew she would be able to focus on her art there. Within days, she was a regular at the Clubhouse and Al’s Bar, where distractions abounded. Changing her medium from painting to metalwork, Koiv “found a home … people like me” in the Downtown Arts District, a community "where you could be completely free." (Click on photo to watch interview.)

Tim Keating (Interviewed May 7, 2014)

Artist Tim Keating moved to Los Angeles in 1982, convinced that “world culture would evolve on this stage before anywhere else.” He has worked toward that end ever since, and in 2002, he co-founded LADADSpace, a nonprofit supporting creative endeavors in the Downtown Arts District. Keating has helped bring world-renowned muralists to the area and raise money for arts programs from film production in the neighborhood. (Click on photo to watch interview.)

Jen Kater (Interviewed April 24, 2014)

For nearly two years, aspiring actor and comedian Jen Kater worked her day job at the Novel Café on Traction Avenue in the Downtown L.A. Arts District. She found support for her dreams in the regulars she got to know there, many of whom were artists, writers, musicians and others who made her feel part of a creative community. After the Novel Café closed in November 2014, Kater found success as a comedic actor in movies and television. (Click on photo to watch interview.)

George Joaquim (Interviewed Jan. 4, 2014)

George Joaquim is a painter who moved into the American Hotel in 1988, attracted by its “bohemian milieu” and the creative community it housed. He quickly fell in with the artists of the 50 Bucks collective and got a job at Al’s Bar, working the door at the punk rock venue in the 1990s. “When you live at the American Hotel,” he says, “you tend to think of Al’s Bar as your living room.” (Click on photo to watch interview.)

Jonathan Jerald (Interviewed March 8, 2014)

While a producer for the History Channel, Jonathan Jerald rented a loft on East 3rd Street in the late 1990s. Quickly becoming a key member of the creative community, he founded LADADSpace, along with artists Tim Keating and Lucy Jensen. The nonprofit focuses on keeping art in the Arts District and has sponsored plays, festivals and artists’ grants. From 2012 to 2018 Jerald ran the District Gallery, featuring the work of local artists. (Click on photo to watch interview.)

Jett Jackson - Part 2 (Interviewed March 29, 2014)

Painter Jett Jackson lived in the American Hotel for most of the 1980s, getting to know the lore, the characters and the landscape intimately. What she calls “tragic romantic decay” was a palpable attribute of the area now known as the L.A. Arts District. Her paintings capture it all. “You’ve got to be able to look at the trash in the gutter and go, ‘Wow, that’s kind of interesting looking!' ’’ she says, “because that’s your flora and your fauna. (Click on photo to watch interview.)

Jett Jackson - Part 1 (Interviewed March 29, 2014)

In 1981, painter Jett Jackson was a student at California Institute of the Arts when she trekked to downtown L.A. to experience Al’s Bar for the first time. That visit didn’t win her over, but later, a CalArts classmate brought her back. “One night in Al’s Bar,” Jackson says, “and the next thing you know, I’m renting a room in the American Hotel!" She surrounded herself with vibrant paintings and even more colorful friends & neighbors. (Click on photo to watch interview.)



Abramovitch - Aston

Baiza - Burke

Callahan - Cruze

Davis - Duck

Earl - Ellsworth

Fauve - Freeman

Giner - Guitarlos

Ha - Hudson

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© Pamela Wilson & Stephen Seemayer / Seemayer Studios LLC 2021