Cultural Trailblazers

Neel Agrawal

DCA’s mission is to strengthen the quality of life in the City of Los Angeles by stimulating and supporting arts leaders. A new method for DCA to promote the social and economic impact of the arts is through distinguishing regional innovators as Cultural Trailblazers. These peer-selected artists have been chosen for their contribution to the community and caliber of their work.

We will be featuring the work of these artists weekly on this page and on our social media channels.

Neel Agrawal

Neel Agrawal is a multi-percussionist based in Los Angeles performing with leading artists in a wide range of musical contexts. He plays tabla, drum set and various percussion instruments from around the world.

Neel was recently recognized as an inaugural 2017-18 “Cultural Trailblazer” by the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs for his work in bridging cultures through world music. In 2016, Neel was selected to participate in “Celebrate the Connections”, an urban arts and education tour of India sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, coordinated by Cultural Vistas in New York.

He completed a fellowship at the Harvard Library Innovation Lab for his groundbreaking research on African Drumming Laws. Additionally, Neel was the section leader of the Michigan State University Drumline, where he received two national tenor drumming awards from Percussive Arts Society.

Visit Neel’s website.

Neel Agrawal

Meg Wolfe

Meg Wolfe is a choreographer, performer, curator, producer, and dance instigator. She has been making collaborative dance and performance works as well as visual objects in Los Angeles since 2004. She is the founder and director of Show Box L.A.; and most recently, opened the studio, we live in space.

Wolfe’s first curatorial project was the roving low-tech performance series, Anatomy Riot (2005-2012). There were very few dance-­based alternatives at that time, and AR became a meeting place for artists to share their explorations and a destination for audiences seeking innovative work. Started in the back room of a sushi bar, Anatomy Riot grew and moved around town to theaters, lofts, warehouses and ballrooms, and presented the work of over 250 local and visiting artists. Wolfe was also co-founder & co-editor of itch dance journal (2006-2013); and organized Dancebank, a series of collectively-run classes and workshops (2007-2011).

In 2009, Wolfe formed Show Box L.A., platform for dance experiments in LA. Since its inception, SBLA has fostered the development and production of over 100 works, brought visiting artists to perform and teach, offered dance residencies, and connected artists with each other and new audiences along the West Coast.

In 2016, seeking a home base for making her own work, Wolfe opened the storefront studio, we live in space. The studio has already served as rehearsal space and creative hub for over 80 local and visiting artists.

As a choreographer, her most recent full-evening work, “New Faithful Disco” was a 2016 National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund and Forth Fund Project co-commissioned by REDCAT, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA), DiverseWorks, Z Space, and NPN; and was noted in Artforum’s “Best of 2016 – The Year in Performance”. The creation of NFD was supported through development and technical residencies at REDCAT; Performance Works NorthWest Alembic Residency; UCLA World Arts & Culture/Dance Hothouse Residency; Show Box LA with support from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts; and a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.

Wolfe began making dance works in 1992, presenting in NYC venues such as Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project at St. Mark’s, Dia Center for the Arts, The Kitchen, The Living Theater, Movement Research at Judson Church, Nuyorican Poets Café, and others. Locally, Wolfe has appeared at the FRESH Festival, Bootleg Theater, Live Arts Exchange Festival, the New Original Works Festival at REDCAT, Confusion is Sex #3, HomeLA, Luis de Jesus Gallery, Off Center Festival/Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Sea and Space Explorations, Anatomy Riot, Highways Performance Space, and others. She has danced in the works of Vicky Shick (1999-2003); as well as in projects by Jerome Bel, Molissa Fenley, Clarinda Mac Low, and Susan Rethorst.

Awards include support from the National Performance Network Creation Fund, Center for Cultural Innovation and Durfee Foundation ARC Grants, CHIME, the Danspace Project Commissioning Initiative and Meet the Composer; and by residencies at REDCAT, Performance Works NorthWest, multiple residencies at the Djerassi Resident Artist’s Program, and the Hothouse program at UCLA, among others.

Elana Mann

Elana Mann (b. 1980, Boston, MA) has presented her artwork in city parks, museums, galleries, and buses including: the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles; Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles; REDCAT, Los Angeles; The Ford Foundation, New York; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; A Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; The Getty Villa, Los Angeles; LA Metro Freewaves project; and the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts, Shenyang, China. She is involved with numerous collaborative/collective endeavors and most recently organized Chats About Change with Robby Herbst, a series of grass-roots conversations with artists involved in creative social change. She is a recipient of awards from the California Community Foundation, the Center for Creative Innovation, and the Rema Hort Mann Foundation. Her projects have been covered by Artforum, the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, NPR, O Globo, El País, La República, and X-Tra Magazine, among others. Her writing has been published in periodicals and books such as Afterall journal, Art 21, and In the Canyon, Revise the Canon. She received her BFA with honors from Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO and her MFA from California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA. Mann lives in South Pasadena with her partner and son.


Elana Mann

Amir H. Fallah

Amir H. Fallah was born in Tehran, Iran in 1979. He received his BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2001 and his MFA from University of California Los Angeles in 2005. Fallah’s artistic oeuvre encompasses painting, photography, sculpture, and installation combined with a visual vocabulary that includes collage and complex patterning. The works present a critical observation of the deconstruction and appropriation of portraiture in its various forms. Fallah’s practice presents an alternative perspective to entrenched art historical portraiture traditions and the dynamics of modern day art collection and art making. Intertwined with these concerns are his reflections upon identity and personal narrative.Fallah has exhibited widely in exhibits across the United States and internationally. These include Embedded Memories, Mohsen Gallery, Tehran, Iran (2016); The Caretaker, Nerman Museum Of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS (2015) ; Perfect Strangers,18th Street Art Center, Santa Monica, CA (2015) ; From The Primitive To the Present, Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2015) ; JOYCE Gallery, Hong Kong (2014); The Collected, The Third Line, Dubai, UAE (2013); The Collected, Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco (2013). His numerous group exhibitions include Illusions of a Perfect Utopia, Walter Maciel Gallery, Los Angeles, California, USA (2014); I’ll Show You Mine, Palo Alto Art Center, Palo Alto, USA (2014), Theory Of Survival: Fabrications, Southern Exposure, San Francisco, USA (2014), Between The Folds, 10 Year Anniversary Show, Gallery Poulsen, Copenhagen, Denmark (2013); SUPERCALLAFRAGILEMYSTICEXTASY -DIOECIOUS, Lancaster Museum of Art and History, California, USA (2013); Show Off, Salsali Private Museum, Dubai, UAE (2011); Amir also participated in the We Must Risk Delight- Twenty Artists From Los Angeles, 56th La Biennale Di Venezia, Venice, Italy (2015) and the 9th Sharjah Biennial, Sharjah, UAE (2009). Fallah is a 2017 recipient of the California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual arts and a 2015 recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant. His works are part of several private and public collections, including the Nerman Museum Of Contemporary Art and the Salsali Private Museum Collection, and the Microsoft CollectionFallah lives and works in Los Angeles, California.


Steven Reigns

Steven Reigns is a Los Angeles-based poet and educator and was appointed the first Poet Laureate of West Hollywood. Alongside over a dozen chapbooks, he has published the collections Inheritance and Your Dead Body is My Welcome Mat. Reigns holds a BA in Creative Writing from the University of South Florida, a Master of Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, and is an eleven-time recipient of The Los Angeles County’s Department of Cultural Affairs’ Artist in Residency Grant. He edited My Life is Poetry, showcasing his students’ work from the first-ever autobiographical poetry workshop for LGBT seniors. Reigns has lectured and taught writing workshops around the country to LGBT youth and people living with HIV. Currently he is touring The Gay Rub, an exhibition of rubbings from LGBT landmarks, facilitates the monthly Lambda Lit Book Club, and is at work on a new collection of poetry.


LA Poet Steven Reigns Helps LGBTQ Seniors find their voice through poetry. Pictured here is founder of My Life is Poetry workshop. His students will present their work at The Los Angeles LGBT Center on October 3rd, 2017. – Photo: Evans Vestal Ward. All Rights Reserved.


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