Seemayer Studios has produced two feature documentary films about the Downtown Los Angeles art community that began flourishing in the early 1970s. Both are available for streaming on Amazon Prime and other platforms.
Tales of the American
“Tales of the American” tells the story of L.A.’s downtown Arts District from the vantage point of one of is oldest — and oddest — buildings.
‘a film that celebrates free expression, cultural change and a history that reflects the City of Angels’ sometimes rough development’
Executive Producer Michael Connelly
It’s called the American Hotel, but there’s no doorman, no concierge, no mints on the pillow. It’s a no-frills haven for creativity at the heart of the downtown Los Angeles Arts District. The American Hotel has been a last resort for some and a new hope for others. For two decades, it was the loud and raucous home of Al’s Bar, the legendary punk rock dive. Painters, writers, actors, musicians and poets have called the century-old brick building home, and their stories are being told in a new documentary, “Tales of the American.” Once a no-man’s-land wedged between Little Tokyo and the L.A. River, the Arts District is now home to expensive condos, designer sausages and sidewalk cafés. And at the center of it all stands the American Hotel, a bohemian oasis in a changing world.
For links to streaming platforms and for more information, visit talesoftheamerican.com.
“Young Turks,” a lively and gritty look at the burgeoning art scene that sprang up amid the abandoned industrial and commercial buildings of downtown Los Angeles in the 1970s, is now in release, available on Google play, iTunes, Vudu and other digital platforms. For links, visit youngturksmovie.com.
The rent was cheap, the streets were tough, the beer was warm. From 1977 to 1981, multimedia artist Stephen Seemayer filmed artists and denizens of downtown L.A. With editor Pamela Wilson, he produced “Young Turks,” an intimate snapshot of downtown at a crossroads, before skyscrapers and the Museum of Contemporary Art, when “loft living” was more than just an advertising slogan. John Rabe, host of “Off-Ramp” on KPCC (89.3) has called “Young Turks” a “delightful and refreshing documentary about artist friends and the life they lived in downtown circa 1980.”
In addition to himself, artists featured in Seemayer’s 95-minute film include:
Performance duo Bob & Bob, performance artist Richard Newton, poet and publisher Linda Frye Burnham, painter and sculptor Jon Peterson, culptor James Croak, photographer Monique Safford, sculptor Woods Davy, assemblagist John Schroeder, provocateur Eric “Randy” Johnsen, sculptor Coleen Sterritt, conceptual artist Marc Kreisel and painter Andy Wilf
The film features narration by Los Angeles Times columnist and radio/TV personality Patt Morrison, as well as original music by Fat & Fucked Up, The Dark Bob, Linda Frye Burnham and Party Boys.
Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, author of “Rebels in Paradise” and “Full Bloom: The Art and Life of Georgia O’Keeffe, wrote that “Young Turks” was a “kaleidoscopic melange of bizarre underground existence and a few naked truths.”
“Young Turks” is also available on DVD from Amazon.