From the ‘Streets’: New Orleans to LA

Last week, I was asked to accompany a friend to an art gallery opening in Beverly Hills. Getting dressed, I decided to step it up and wear khakis (so rare for LA, right?) and a pressed button down shirt with a nice thin summer sweater on top. I felt just right as I approached David Streets’ gallery on Little Santa Monica. I turned, smiling, to enter the soiree and saw that nearly every man inside was dressed in black tie: my jaw dropped.

It is customary in these situations to run away as quickly as possible before being stoned for any sub-par attire, but unfortunately I was trapped.  My “friend” assured me that I was fine and that there were other underdressed folk who also hadn’t gotten the memo. At the first sight of another pair of khakis, I relaxed and remembered I’m in LA – he who has never been underdressed in LA can cast the first stone.  I was safe. 

David Streets is one of the most interesting people I have met since living in Los Angeles. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, he has a slight southern drawl that tends to calm you, allowing his eloquent vocabulary to flow smoothly. “When it comes to entertaining, black tie is the norm in the south,” he explained to me.

Returning to interview him the following week, I assumed he’d been in LA for years, especially considering the Oscar-esque crowd he drew. I was shocked to find that he has only lived here for three years. David began and built his career in New Orleans on Royal Street in the French Quarter over twenty years ago. He started as a director in a gallery and eventually worked his way up in the New Orleans art world to own a 22,000 square foot gallery space that represented 45 different artists. 

On August 28th, 2005 his world was turned upside down, along with hundreds of thousands of others, when Hurricane Katrina struck.  In something he could only describe as a scene from Armageddon, he found his gallery ravaged and stripped of all its artwork– even the toilets had been ripped from the floors. Ironically, his gallery’s neighborhood, the French Quarter, sat on a plateau in the center of the city and was untouched by the flood- instead it was destroyed by the animalistic behavior of looters and thieves.  

Struggling with the decision to leave New Orleans, he was approached by friend and sculptor Richard MacDonald about moving to Los Angeles to open a gallery for him. David hesitantly took the offer and moved to LA in December 2005 and he hasn’t left us yet..

He left Richard’s Gallery, among other ventures, to open his own gallery. He opened the doors to both of his new spaces last week. David Streets Gallery is composed of a contemporary art and photography space, as well as a traditional and conventional space with a truly diverse array of artwork. His gallery doesn’t feel empty like so many others in LA – there is a sense of hospitality in its character that makes you feel welcomed and appreciated.  

Overall, David has built an empire (though humbly he wouldn’t say so) of A-list clients and artists from around the world that all value his unique vision, praising the educational and exciting “experience” of art.  

Please check out the video interview to hear more about how he has secured his place in  LA’s art world.

- By Gray Malin

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