Wacko Friday Art

Wacko Friday Art

As a frequent visitor, WACKO has never failed in always having fascinating products. Quite unlike anywhere else, this is a store which features the unique, the odd, well, yes, the wacko. On the lower end of Hollywood Blvd., nearly touching Vermont, prepare to spend hours here as the selection will have you dazzled.

Here’s their story:

Mom handled hand-crafted soaps, Dad designed the graphics, and sons Peter and Billy Shire produced original ceramics and leatherware, respectively. Billy’s outrageous leather outfits garnered him clients like Elton John and the New York Dolls, and in 1973 he gained even greater notoriety when his studded denim jacket won a design competition sponsored by Levi Strauss. The jacket was later displayed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as part of their Made in California: Art, Image, and Identity, 1900 – 2000 exhibition.

By the early 1980s, Soap Plant was Billy’s alone, and he moved the shop to Melrose Avenue. In this larger space, he added books, ceramics and unique jewelry to his ever-increasing stock, and Soap Plant’s eclectic array of items helped turn Melrose into an internationally recognized shopping destination.

In 1984, capitalizing on a couple of vacant storefronts next to Soap Plant, Billy opened WACKO, a pop culture toy shop with punk rock attitude. Along with housing the largest collection of postcards in Los Angeles, Wacko also offered a veritable nirvana of Japanese robots, tin wind-ups, gimmicks, games and novelties.

Two years later, Shire opened La Luz de Jesus Gallery upstairs from his flagship store. One of the most important, ground-breaking galleries in Los Angeles, La Luz de Jesus quickly garnered a considerable reputation with collectors, galleries, and artists around the world; and it gave birth to a genre of California art that would come to be known as Lowbrow. The celebrity clientele and legendary parties, coupled with Billy’s keen eye for talent, earned him the nickname “the Peggy Guggenheim of Lowbrow.” Wacko, Hollywood Blvd., present

In 1995 Billy Shire moved his entire empire back to the neighborhood where it all began. The new (and current) location boasts over 6,500 square feet of retail space in a 10,000 square foot building, with a private back lot that hosts what Details Magazine calls “the best party in town.” La Luz de Jesus Gallery’s art openings on the first Friday of each month. (To locals, it’s simply known as “doing First Friday at La Luz”.)



Since 1980, San Diego native Wick Alexander has been producing distinctive paintings, sculptures and public artworks. Awards for his paintings have been presented by the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council and the Ford Foundation.
His paintings are included in many private collections and museum permanent collections including the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, the California Center for the Arts in Escondido and the Banff Center of the Arts in Alberta, Canada.

Wick Alexander is also known, alongside his partner Robin Brailsford who invented it, pioneering the technique of Lithomosaics; a system utilizes mosaic patterns together with a Lithocrete paving system. This is the only system that installs mosaics in a full thickness monolithic pour, allowing designers the flexibility to create their own art piece at significantly less cost than any other medium currently available.

Wick Alexander is known in locally in LA County for his public works installations at eight separate Long Beach Transit Stations, mosaics in several parks across Los Angeles, the Moving Pictures installations across Culver City, as well known across San Diego county for numerous public work installations.

This series dives into the salacious, provocative nature of modern Americana culture. It is a culture that Wick Alexander identifies as insatiable desires for community and consumption and therefore creates almost farcical consequences. Many of his pieces evoke a “Where’s Waldo” type of composition where the view is constantly finding bizarre characters in this micro-environments.

There is an open bar but please tip our bartender.

Opening Reception: June 7th, 7pm – 11pm
4633 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90027

Insatiable Vicariousness: Wick Alexander