It’s like the beginning of every joke you ever heard: A woodworker, two filmmakers and some painters are at a coffee shop. The filmmakers say, “Hey, there are enough of us here that we could really do something great if we combine our talents. Maybe we could put on a gallery show or something.”
I don’t have a punchline, because it’s not a joke. But if it was, I’m sure there’d be a bartender involved. Or perhaps, in this case, a barista.
The group was recently formed by Kyle Glówacky, 24, and Michael MacGregor, 23, New Hampshire natives who have been friends and made movies since seventh grade. They moved to Burbank’s Magnolia Park neighborhood earlier this year.
They didn’t exactly find the eclectic art community they were looking for, so they made their own — a place where artists don’t just display their work in show-and-tell. Instead, these artists are going to make it together.
“Our goal is to cultivate an arts scene by using this place (Simply Coffee) as an arts center,” Glówacky said.
This is not his first go at an arts collaborative. When Glówacky was in high school, he organized an art collective and later a 30 Under 30 festival, highlighting 30 pieces of art from up-and-comers.
It’s a coveted age group in the arts scene, one that often lacks the organization needed to get a group like this motivated. Earlier this year Lisa Caddel, president of the Burbank Art Association, told me one of her great struggles is involving younger artists in her group, which began as a painters’ collective in 1950.
So it was surprising to see that Glówacky and MacGregor are two of the youngest members of Simply Art – and even Caddel is a member.
The premise is straightforward: The group votes on a theme, then spends days and weeks creating something based on that theme. The first theme for the fledgling group is, ironically enough, “nostalgia.”
“If you put a bunch of talented artists together, something creative is going to happen,” said MacGregor.
He tells me this at Simply Coffee a few hours before their meeting starts. The two roommates practically live there.
A young woman wanders over and introduces herself. Joanna Waterfall is a freelance graphic designer who, upon overhearing Glówacky and MacGregor, asks if she might join up as well.
Glówacky says it’s interactions like this that convinced him Burbank could use a group like his. Sure, they could have set up in Echo Park or Silver Lake and found more artists than they would know what to do with. But then they’d also become part of the noise, where it’s hard enough to find one’s voice, let alone project it above the crowd.
Burbank was like their small hometown of Exeter, N.H., with one exception: Here they found more artists looking to try something bold with a new network.
“It’s easier to make an impact in a place like this … to move to a place that has less and make more,” Glówacky said.
At the Simply Art Collective weekly 4 p.m. meeting on Saturday, MacGregor called members to order by reviewing the group’s agreed-upon definition of nostalgia: “The past is better than what we have now.”
It spurred one member, Burroughs High School librarian Julie Grene, to begin some artwork she was thinking about for a while, but needed a push to start.
“The concept is absolutely what I was hoping for,” she said.
BRYAN MAHONEY is a recent transplant from the East Coast. When he isn’t busting out his crayons, he can be reached at 818NewGuy@gmail.com and on Twitter at @818NewGuy.