I moved over to this neighborhood in 1999. At that point half of the Delmore building was boarded up like a Ghost town and the other side was occupied by a few galleries. At the very end you could find El Batey Market, a place where neighborhood kids scored candy and mothers could put it on their tab. In the seven years I've lived and worked in this building I have had the pleasure of seeing El Batey owner Evalia almost every day. She has shared her amazing enchiladas, saved packages for me and given me lovely Xmas gifts. In return I've styled her for a fab Flapper party & given her fun surprises.
This corner that Chango coffee House now shares with Evalia was once known as Chicken Corner. Chicken Corner was named after an Aaron Donovan mural that showed a bunch of crazy chickens. Bulging eyed chickens, one of them in leather, multicolored, painted and occasionally tagged and otherwise assaulted. (At one point someone tossed about a quart of tan paint over it and at least one of the chickens disappeared forever.) The mural was titled, “Moron.” When the Chango coffee house opened in 2004, its owners blasted out the mural in order to create a window on the side of the building. Pieces of it are mounted inside the coffee house in a sort of mosaic homage-slash-apology to the people who wanted the mural to stay. The day that Aaron moved out of his art space Delirium Tremens, he gave me all the pre-sketches of the Chicken Corner mural. I was honored.
My neighbor came up the stairs today with an ancient embossed floral leather belt that seems salvaged from the Shakespeare era. I gasped as she revealed her husband found it at the hidden junk shop behing El Batey and Chango spaces. WHAT!?
How could a thrifty junk shop not be sniffed out by me and my pals?
We've lived and worked here a few years shy of a decade and no one ever mentioned the tiny antique space tucked behind my home? What will we discover next, an amusement park under the building attatched to a bowling alley? Hidden tunnels to the lotus flowers? I asked Evalia today about it and she simply said, "ah yes, my brother in law once owned the place for 15-20 years and he passed a year and half ago and his son is cleaning it out." Sometimes you have to really explore.
Speaking of mysterious spaces here in Echo Park- what is with that enigma glass box across the street from the Delmore?
Well rumor has it that the young girl who lives there told a source that her uncle builds fences and doors and created this front yard piece as a display of his craftmanship. Hmmm. I had hoped it was a time machine or an elaborate aviary.