While they might not be reinventing the wheel, the folks at the Metabolic Studio are certainly re-imagining it.

Thursday nights are open house events at the Metabolic Studio just outside of Downtown Los Angeles. Metabolic is an interdisciplinary creative community centered around the art practices of Lauren Bon and run through the Annenberg Family Foundation.

Lou Pesce has been with metabolic studio since 2009 and assists Lauren Bon on her Metabolic artwork.

“Basically, Lauren as an artist is trying to work at scales that help address the ways in which we have altered our environment,” said Pesce.

Metabolic's current project is an infrastructural artwork called, Bending the River Back Into the City, which features a 48-foot in diameter water wheel.

Pesce stood in front of a scale model of the water wheel, explaining that water from the L.A. River will be diverted into the wheel system, treated to comply with Title 22 standards, and then distributed to three sites: LA State Historic Park, Downey Recreation Center, and the upcoming Albion Riverside Park. 

“What's exciting,” said Pesce, “is that this is water that would normally flow out to Long Beach into the ocean and we are will be capturing it and using it here locally.”

From the vantage point of Spring Street Bridge, it's possible to get a bird's eye view of where the project will live. 

“Our inlet will be 2,000 feet upstream,” said Pesce, pointing upstream at the river which was swollen from recent rain.

This project marks the first time that the concrete jacket of the L.A. River (created as a flood control measure), will be pierced to allow for water diversion.

But at Metabolic, the projects are only part of the equation. Community outreach and education are also central to its mission, hence the open house events and community potlucks every Thursday. 

Milli Macen Moore, one of Metabolic’s resident artists explained the project.

“We here at the Metabolic Studio can teach those people that come in on a Thursday night how to create better soil, better water, better community networking amongst each other,” said Moore.

Bending the River Back Into the City is a massive project requiring 68 permits from 22 different agencies. The group is securing its final permit now and hopes to break ground on the project in summer of 2019.