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Linda Immediato of LA Weekly & Los Angeles Magazine writes about HM157
HM 157: A slice of life on the technicolor dream coast
There is a stretch of North Broadway that winds away from Chinatown, and dissolves into no man’s land. Along the way, it’s pock-marked with chain stores, fast-food restaurants and struggling mom and pop shops. So by the time you finally reach the edge of the city, and those last golden arches peek over the tops of trees like devil horns, your heart has sunken a little bit by the sight of America. But directly across the street, in the glow of a sign that reads “billions and billions served,” stands, in staunch contradiction, HM 157, a stately, if gently rundown Queen Anne Victorian built in 1886. HM 157, short for Historic Monument 157, is a landmarked building which despite peeling and missing paint manages to look proud and cheerful with intricate carved woodwork and colorful stained-glass windows worthy of a humble church.
For years it fell into disrepair languishing as a dumpy realty office. But today, thanks to some technicolor new inhabitants and their TLC, HM 157 has become a local grassroots word-of-mouth mecca, operating as an artist space, art gallery, music venue, and community center.
Brother Reid Maxwell, the over six-foot tall gentle patriarch of the house, found the house “by accident” but immediately saw its potential to be something special. He moved into the second story, and kept the downstairs salon and parlor rooms open for any number of imaginative and magical events. To help him fulfill the space’s destiny he enlisted his ex girlfriend (and mother of his child), Sister Charon Nogues, a stylist, kombucha farmer and purveyor, and local fashion plate eccentric with a heart of gold, and hair to match. Sister Charon says HM 157 was designed to be “ a community creative space dedicated to the propagation of all positive possibilities.”
With that philosophy, they went to work adding artist workspaces inside various vehicles parked in the backyard, these include an old school bus, a vintage Airstream trailer and an ‘68 RV camper. They begun scheduling events that lure all kinds of people from the community, from hipsters to families. Events like indie bands sets from the video/music artists Billygoat, the haunting Eliza Rickman, to fiddler extraordinaire Frankie Fairfield; to live-model drawing classes and healing herb workshops with Cecelia A. Garcia, a Chumash medicine woman. Hm 157 is also a political launch pad and think tank, holding discussions on single-payer healthcare reform led by community activist Ellen Lubic. And then some events draw a real mixed crowd for some simple old fashioned fun, like the monthly square dance socials led by Corey Marie with music by Triple Chicken Foot.
“We are all about good clean family fun here at HM157,” says Sister Charon. “The positive environment that we provide aims to help good people (whom we count ourselves among) become independent, self determined, healthy, wealthy and wise through the use of cooperation. Like the Black Panthers did back in the 70's. We're the Rainbow Panthers,” she says with a warm smile.
“Eventually, I see this space being self sustainable, as off the grid as possible, with a huge community garden feeding people, ” says Brother Reid, “Right now it’s a statement. It’s not just that we have shows here, we are about creating a lifestyle with each thing that we do—how that event relates to the house, and how the house relates to others. I want it to be an inspiration for alternative lifestyle as art.”