“ A strange world of neon light, hidden in the middle of the Arts District. Led by an undertaker, a vigilante, and a true believer, this multi-part audio tour might make you question your mortality…and what lies beyond. Only you can decide what to believe.”
– Trap Street, Darkness Comes Alive
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I showed up at the Lili Lakich Gallery. I knew that the description had piqued my interest, there was a podcast-style audio tour of an exhibit of neon art, and that was about it. Headphones in hand, I walked through the door (beneath a neon Mona Lisa), and was greeted by Trap Street’s Chad Eschman, who gave us a little background about the space. Although initially I had thought that this was a new installation specifically for the audio experience, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the space was the artist’s studio and private collection, rarely opened to non-students, and that the stories had been written to enhance this hidden wonder.
After a few moments to familiarize myself with the layout of the Lakich gallery, I started the audio experiences. Along with a brief introduction, there are three stories you can choose from in any order – red, green, and purple, each taking you to different pieces of art through the course of their stories. Additionally, there are stations throughout the gallery with printed materials, providing additional depth to each of the narratives.
Each narrative has a unique, thought-provoking viewpoint, covering topics including revenge, grief and mourning rituals, and the commercialization and commodification of both art and humanity. Though all three pieces were moving, the story told by Str8 LAce, the vigilante, in the red narrative was the most personally resonant, and related to the art the most deeply. The red tour gravitated to the powerful social and political messages in Lakich’s work, including staring down your own internal struggle with gender and sexuality, serial sexual violence, and maybe the potential for a little surreptitious street justice. Her story was also a complete tonal shift from the other two narrators, proving that any tool can be a weapon if you hold it right.
The voice acting was excellent, with each character well developed and recognizable. One thing I would have liked to see would have been an opportunity to interact with some performers at the location as well – it would have added another level of depth to the world that they created.
For me, the art itself was truly the star. Covering Lakich’s decades of work, each piece was a wonderment of neon and metalwork, all telling stories that strengthened the emotions generated by the audio tours. Being able to wander quietly through a master’s domain was well worth the admission, but to hear new stories that were able to transform her beautiful art into something even deeper was truly delightful.
Trap Street created a beautiful, emotional experience in an already magical location. The use of recorded audio files and headphones allowed for a solo-style immersive experience that is accessible to a broad audience of art and theatre lovers alike. I can’t wait to see what secret place they let me discover next.
More about the Lili Lakich gallery on her website.