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New NELA Art Director: Expect Status Quo—For Now

Cathi Milligan has long-term goals for the Second Saturday Art Walk, but wants to first ensure a smooth transition following her predecessor's resignation.

Over the past six years, Northeast Los Angeles’ artists and gallery owners established the area as a destination location on the second Saturday of every month.

NELA Art’s Second Saturday Gallery Night blossomed—especially in Highland Park—under the guidance of Director Brian Mallman, who recently stepped down to focus on his personal artistic pursuits.

Stepping into Mallman’s shoes is owner Cathi Milligan, who said her mission is to build upon the foundation laid by Mallman and to grow NELA’s arts scene from a monthly to a daily destination.

“We want to make sure NELA is completely represented. I’ll be getting in touch with whatever galleries or artists there are in Glassell Park, Cypress Park, Eagle Rock and even Mount Washington," Milligan said. "I look at this as being about the creative arts, not just about fine art. There are so many other creative types, so I'm looking for more people to participate. That will be part of the growth and evolution of it."

Among the long-term initiatives Milligan said she is considering is a bus-tour that would roll through all of Northeast Los Angeles on Second Saturdays, allowing participants to make stops at overlooked galleries in Eagle Rock, Glassell Park and Cypress Park.

Milligan also said she would like to encourage more tours and events hosted at galleries at times other than Second Saturday.

Growing Beyond York

Leanna Lin, who owns , said that as NELA Art moves forward, she hopes Eagle Rock can develop an arts scene to rival the stretch of galleries along York Boulevard.

"Because it's not walkable from Highland Park we get overlooked because people want to be where the scene is."

Lin said that promoting Northeast L.A. as a daily arts destination would encourage art lovers to make visits to galleries outside of the densely packed area between Ave. 50 and 51 on York Boulevard in Highland Park.

“We want people to take a tour anytime—not just night time on Saturday,” Lin said. “We want to promote that the galleries are here, and they're not just here that night."

Janet Dodson, of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, said she supported Milligan’s efforts to expand NELA Art’s mission.

“The long-term goal is the make the entire area an art, design and everything art oriented destination, day and night, all day every day,” Dodson said.

Slow and Steady

Milligan stressed, though, that gallery night participants shouldn’t expect to see any changes to Gallery Night in the near term.

“Right now we're going to stick with the status quo to make sure nobody's feathers are ruffled because of the transition,” Milligan said.

Milligan is stepping into her position in the wake of Gallery Owner Clare Graham closing his doors to the public over concerns that the city of Los Angeles .  Milligan, who said she’s been assured by Councilman José Huizar’s office that , said she focused on moving beyond the fees discussion before implementing any changes.

 “The main message they've got is that nothing is changing," Dodson said. "No problems, no changes. It’s the same story for now.”

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