We had the good fortune of connecting with Renée Reizman and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Renée, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
I think I’m plagued by this dilemma on a daily basis. As an artist and writer whose income mostly comes from freelancing, getting rejected is part of the job. In the arts, I’m always applying to residencies, trying to get paid to run a workshop, and hoping I’ll be included in an exhibition. Writing sometimes feels even more brutal; it’s a much more frequent cycle of pitching my ideas to editors, and few bite.

Rejection doesn’t get any easier, but over time it forms into a callous, and you stop letting it hold you back. It’s also just better to develop my practice through the organizations that are receptive to my ideas. They’ve seen my work and have decided they want to work with me. They’re my fans, they’re happy to champion my work, and they want me to be successful. As these connections grow stronger, I know that soon, instead of chasing down opportunities, they’ll start coming to me.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a social practice artist, which means that I collaborate with communities to make art and share knowledge. It’s a niche practice, and even in Los Angeles, it can be difficult to find places that will embrace artwork that can’t be mass produced or sold in a gallery. For the past two years, I’ve been unbelievably fortunate to be the artist in residence for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, where I program public interventions about transit, culture, and policy that shape our city. So far, I’ve led a 24-hour telethon with almost 30 artists, launched the LADOT Town Hall Tour, which takes community conversations to underserved neighborhoods via a Cityride bus, and staged a performance with friendly mascots and one hundred neon green visual warning signs. These projects discussed the ways COVID-19 impacted transportation, how the census funds our neighborhoods, and how traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for children under 12 in Los Angeles.

For a long time, I didn’t know that working with the public in these creative ways could even be considered an art practice. I knew I wanted to find unusual ways to discuss public policy and infrastructure, and started out by making zines and doing projects with my friends. I went to grad school to get an M.F.A., which helped me see the legitimacy in this artistic style, and learned more about the practitioners who’ve made a career from social practice. I only recently began teaching at a collegiate level, and I really hope I can plan a curriculum around art and civic engagement and expose more people my work.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love quirky, kitschy, unusual, and historic places. I’ll take people to Clifton’s Cafeteria to see the enormous redwood tree jutting trough the building, or the Velaslavasay Panorama to experience a 360 degree arctic tundra. We’ll watch performance art at Chinatown’s Human Resources and grab a drink at Melody Lounge around the corner. I’ll take them museum hopping, from Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery at the top of Barnsdall Park, have them rethink the possibilities of traditional arts at Craft Contemporary, relax in the purple garden tucked behind the Underground Museum, admire cosmonaut dogs in the Museum of Jurassic Technology, and then see artwork about tunnels and overpasses at the hidden gem next door, the Center for Land Use Interpretation.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My friends are my biggest support system. They’re my hype men and women, they listen to me ramble about my latest obsessions, and they coax joy buried within me even when I’m at my lowest. They understand that I’m very independent and hate asking for help, so they give me space when I need it, but are always ready to help me spray paint blaze orange flags, or bring their lawn chairs and discuss books outside of municipal buildings.

Website: https://reneereizman.com

Instagram: https://instagram.com/reneereizman

Twitter: https://twitter.com/reneereizman

Image Credits
Photo of me – Yubo Dong All other photos – by me!

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.