This project gallery represents the work of our network of creative activists including media produced by Creative Activist Program members, fiscal sponsees, and Creative Visions Productions. 

Cafe de Art: The Rozzell Sykes Story

Cafe de Art: The Rozzell Sykes Story

Casey Bridges

Cafe de Art: The Rozzell Sykes Story is a documentary about the creative life and inspirational philosophy of artist, Rozzell Sykes told through intimate footage, archival material and contemporary interviews. Rozzell was the founder of St. Elmo Village, an artist community consisting of bungalows, sheds and garages. “We use what we have,” Rozzell would tell friends and visitors from his community and beyond, as he worked with donated materials and paints. In keeping with his philosophy, Rozzell often remarked that “if a home is only the size of a shoe box, make it the best it can be.” He created St. Elmo Village with paint, plants and color, establishing a haven for creatives. He began by enlisting not only residents of the neighborhood, but also friends, many of whom were influential figures such as Jeff Bridges, Edward James Olmos and Quincy Jones, as well as elected officials including Mayor Tom Bradley. His self-developed style utilized mixed media including many public murals that survive to this day. St. Elmo Village continues to thrive in L.A. The documentary focuses on his story and legacy and includes the restoration of his last public mural located at the Mid-City School, where he taught art to school children for many years. The same friends that assisted with the original mural over 24 years ago oversee the present-day restoration, made possible by the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department. 

This short form documentary tells the Story of Rozzell Sykes from the perspective of the filmmaker, Casey Bridges, who was able to document the life and times of the man and artist through an intimate period of mentorship and friendship in the early 90’s until his passing in 1994. The film celebrates the influence Rozzell has had on so many lives and the contribution he has made to the Los Angeles art community and beyond.

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