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the muse of el segundo


written by darren elms | styled by tanya monaghan

After the El Segundo Museum of Art opened a few years ago, Holly Socrates quickly zeroed in on the potential of the quiet but eclectic region of the South Bay. When a corner location came up for rent just two doors down from the museum, she jumped in.

“To tell you the truth, I had no idea what I was about to discover in terms of artistic culture,” she admits. But presented with an empty canvas, an artist must paint. And so she did.

With the presence of a high-caliber museum, local artisans and enthusiastic art patrons, the warehouses and storefronts of the “smoky” streets just north of Chevron began filling up with galleries, studios and restaurants. “Out of all the coastal cities, it’s El Segundo that lends itself to the arts,” says Holly. “The city has blue-collar roots and a small-town feel.”

With its red brick buildings—many intact from the early 1900s—and old manufacturing warehouses repurposed into creative studios, there’s a unique preservation and appreciation of history that certainly stands out. “I think artists are attracted to that,” she adds. “El Segundo doesn’t try to be cool. It just is.”

Both art and fashion have strong roots in Holly’s own family history. Her grandfather worked in the textile business in Europe, and he was also was a fine art oil painter.  

“I grew up in a home where creativity and problem-solving were modeled and encour-aged,” she shares. “After college I worked in the fashion industry in Los Angeles for over a decade as merchandiser, designer and wardrobe stylist. Style and art intersect for me in a lot of ways. I’m such a ‘curator’ at heart. I love to put things together that work well together—whether it’s shoes to a dress or artists to venues at the art walk.” 

As a small business owner of the Holly Socrates Gallery, she did much of the work herself to transform the space—including painting and scraping tint off windows.... continue reading

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