HM157 Rising From The Ashes

Recently HM157 a local community arts super space suffered from a tragic fire. Charon Nogues of HM157 took a little bit of time out from trying to clean, recover, and rebuild to answer some questions about how a historical monument became a venue and has helped to enhance and service the community. We also talked about how they are trying to rebuild and recover after the tragic fire and how people can help.

HM157 is a historical monument and a super massive creative shared space, can you describe some of the things you do to help build and maintain community?

Well.. firstly.. Historical Monument 157 circa 1886, was already established historical monument when we leased the property in 2007 .. It used to be a real estate office, hence the large paved parking lot behind the old mansion. The lower half of the house is a commercial space & the upstairs is residential … This made it a little easier to secure business licenses. There seems to be a very limited number of DIY cultural arts centers here in LA.. it’s nearly impossible for a grassroots DIY space to become legal… It’s incredibly expensive & requires years of perseverance to build a viable 501C3 Non Profit .

Every DIY venue is different & caters to different demographic.. we are a very inclusive community because our board of directors & resident artists are always very different, the common denominator is our love for Lincoln Heights & the Arts in general . As a Cultural Arts platform.. HM157 represents the true DIY spirit.. We really no longer need real estate offices .. Property owners & agencies can operate from an online website at home.. More & more we are seeing failed businesses & empty churches becoming community spaces because of need, thru community activism .

Tele Novella from Austin, TX played at HM157 last year (9-10-2014) in the backyard which is where the fire caused the damage.  Photo by DJ Zomb-E

Tele Novella from Austin, TX played at HM157 last year (9-10-2014) in the backyard which is where the fire caused the damage. Photo by DJ Zomb-E

How did HM157 become the space that it is?
In 2007, Reid Maxwell, Johanna Zuckerman & I we’re looking around east LA looking for a store front that had live/work potential ..Initially we wanted to open an exotic vintage shop that also featured interesting musical instruments & recording equipment… Reid & Johanna were engaged to be married.. & they would be living at the shop. What we found was HM157.. It was large & expensive.. so we had to rent space to artists.. each artist took HM157 in another direction & it eventually evolved into a venue.

You’ve hosted many events and been a home to so many artists, what are some of your favorite shows, or is every one your favorite?
Well.. this is a hard question.. for me it’s the Michael Yonkers show.. Freak folk, rock god M.Y lives in Minneapolis & never travels because of a severe health condition.. His last performance was at HM157.. since then health has declined.. The video footage was included in his film, “HEY HEY WHAT” about his current project with the Blind Shake.. Mr. Yonkers is an extraordinary human being & incredibly kind.

You’ve been around for quite some time and I’m sure you’ve had a great impact on the community, can you recall any personal feedback you’ve gotten over the years?
It’s a general warm fuzzy response that we receive .. so many people we respect & admire tell us that HM157 is their favorite venue to play or attend events.. Most folks know that HM157 is a huge, painful undertaking.. ha ha.. so they frequently congratulate us for doing what we do.

Why is HM157 so important to you and many others?
I think that we all know that we are experiencing a fleeting “Golden Age” in the cultural arts/music scene.. Echo Park & Silver Lake has attracted a great many fantastic musicians from all over & DIY artists in general.. So many great talents reside here in East LA.. We can boast mind blowing record labels producing revolutionary acts. HM157 is one of the more unique places for big up & comers to create unforgettable happenings .

You recently suffered from a tragic fire, can you describe the impact it has had on you and your community and what ways people can help to improve this terrible situation?
The fire could have easily destroyed our house .. had it done so, we would NOT find another space.. we would defiantly be retired from event production . Besides what our residents have lost.. our big concern is the damage done to our neighbors property.. it’s easy to blame us for the fire… we don’t want any ill will or resentment .. so it is our hope that we raise a lot of money, so we can help them with their expenses & do some physical repairs, as well as maintain good relations . My husband Gaston Nogues ( www.ball-nogues.com ) is a very talented architect designer .. he’s been leading the clean up & restoration charge since morning after the fire … He has a great deal of brilliant “place-making” ideas.. his partner Ben Ball is also inspired to do something at HM157 now that the back looks like a desolate graveyard .

How has the support from the local community helped you on a personal level?
Without community support, we could not continue.. it takes a LOT of motivation to clean up the disaster & stick with the scheduled events on the calendar .. Normally the balancing act between taking care of our children, working our regular jobs & managing the complex HM157 seems impossible .. All we can do is to fix everything as quickly as possible… otherwise we could become accustomed to dormancy & start enjoying other peoples activities .. Ha ha.

What’s next for HM157 on the road to recovery?
Now that most of the charred remains have been removed & the back has been pressure washed.. we aim to trim our neighbors burnt fruit trees.. we really hope that they’re not dead.. that & find a way to communicate with the Buddhist temple behind us.. we tried to talk about coming over to do repairs .. but we we’re not understood . As far as our space goes.. We will be bringing vegetation from the front yard & rebuilding our outdoor kitchen .

Is there anything else you’d like to say or that people should know?
There is a list of some of the things that were lost in the fire posted on our website & the GoFundme.. Artist Joe Holliday lost his fabrication studio full of heavy equipment & tools.. so people can donate lost tools, Josephine & Charles lost all their clothing amongst other things.. clothing gift certificates can be donated rather than guessing what suits them.. nice potted plants are cheerful.. if anyone has an Airstream trailer they’d like a tax write off for .. Hey.. we have a great spot for it .

Sunday June 7th we are putting on a “Barn raiser” square dance with Triple Chicken foot..

Please do stay tuned : http://www.hm157.com/calendar

Here is our GoFundme : http://www.gofundme.com/savehm157

Venues like HM157 survive off of donations and support from the community. They provide safe creative spaces and contribute and support DIY culture. Please help if you can or tell your friends because word of mouth helps a lot. Thank you HM157 for taking the time to talk to me and for being such an inspiring venue.

-DJ Zomb-E is heard on KSPC every Saturday night from 9pm – 11pm.

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