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Oct 12, 2019

The Los Angeles art gallery La Luz de Jesus, has long been synonymous with the lowbrow art movement.

Billy Shire

The Los Angeles gallery has brought about artists like hot rod icon Ed Roth, “Cranium” board game designer Gary Baseman, photorealist illustrator Ron English, and Robert Williams to name but a few.

But La Luz isn’t a stuffy museum. It sits in the back of a store, the legendary and eclectic Los Feliz store Soap Plant/Wacko store.  The man behind the concept is Billy Shire, guest of episode 13 of The Lydian Spin.

Billy started out making leatherwear.  His outrageous leather outfits garnered him clients like The New York Dolls and Elton John. 

In 1974, Billy gained even greater notoriety when his studded denim jacket won a design competition sponsored by Levi Strauss. 
Studded denim jacket designed by Billy.
Billy's custom 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 and epitomizes the hand-made fashions of 1970s American counter-cultre era.

It was 1986 when Billy opened La Luz De Jesus Gallery, upstairs from his flagship store. The gallery gave birth to the art movement in California that would come to be known as "Lowbrow".  

Celebrity clientele and legendary parties, coupled with Billy’s keen eye for talent, earned him the nickname The Peggy Guggenheim of Lowbrow” by JUXTAPOZ magazine.

Lydia and Tim discuss Billy's store and gallery. Other subjects include Iggy Pop, J. Geils Band, Joshua Tree, and his pragmatic bag test.