On Saturday a new kind of art party is pulling into Bergamot Station

By Christina Campodonico

Cara Barer dyes, ruffles and arranges discarded texts

Cara Barer dyes, ruffles and arranges discarded texts

On the grounds of what was a functioning railway station from 1875 to the late 1980s, Bergamot Station Arts Center was born because the trains stopped coming.

Now that train service is coming back, Bergamot’s new inhabitants are celebrating the way they do best — with an
art party.

Visual arts, theater and music are in full bloom for EXPO-SÉ, Saturday’s arts and culture community celebration throughout the Bergamot campus, an expanse of
46 venues bounded by Olympic Boulevard, 26th Street and Michigan Avenue.

The event officially kicks off with an 11 a.m. ribbon cutting for the Expo Line’s Bergamot Station / 26th Street stop, with Santa Monica Councilman Kevin McKeown, Bergamot Station Arts Center founder Wayne Blank and the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce doing the honors.

But the fun doesn’t start or stop there. Several galleries are holding special art openings, receptions and events throughout the day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (officially) and well into the evening.

“Cendrillon,” featuring the work of Cara Barer, opens from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Laura Korman Gallery. Barer dyes, ruffles and arranges pages from discarded novels, phone books, dictionaries and even a Windows 95 user manual to create sculptural objects reminiscent of flowers or spiritual mandalas that she then photographs.

“When people look at it they think it’s a painting, but it’s actually a photograph,” gallery owner and EXPO-SÉ co-organizer Laura Korman says of Barer’s work. “It’s like sculpture that becomes a still life.”

Korean artist Minjung Kim’s solo exhibition, opening at the Leslie Sacks Gallery at 5 p.m., takes similar inspiration from papery materials. In her work, she lights sheets of handmade Mulberry tree paper on fire, then pieces these scorched remnants together into flowery collages.

“If you’re looking at her work, each little piece of paper is singed at the edges — kind of like pencils or ink,” says Leslie Sacks Gallery coordinator and event co-organizer Diana McNeill. “Since she’s using paper and fire, her works are all about rebirth and regeneration.”

Things get a little risqué with painter Courtney Murphy’s leg-baring close ups of women swirling, lounging and spinning in voluminous skirts and dresses at Skidmore Contemporary Art Gallery. Knees slide past ruffles, ankles peek past hemlines and calves are exposed, creating sensuous, suggestive and voluptuous works.

“My pieces all have their own story, but they have no one ending,” Murphy tells Skidmore Contemporary Arts’ Kelly Bertrando.

The Ruth Bachofner Gallery enlivens its exhibition “Energy, Matter, Light” with an artist’s talk by USC Roski Fine Arts Professor Margaret Lizzari at 11 a.m., and from 4 to 7 p.m. the TAG Gallery is hosting an opening reception for artists Vicky Hoffman, Tom Wheeler and Joe Pinkelman.

Stop in to the Rose Gallery anytime for a timely presentation of vintage and historic cable car, railroad and train images.

See Matt Elson’s “Infinity Boxes” and Thomas Whittaker Kidd’s whimsical paintings of fantastical landscapes at bG Gallery, and Pamela Mayers-Schoenberg’s photography exploring the emotional, educational and physical strains of K-12 students is on display at dnj Gallery.

The Richard Heller Gallery features new paintings by Spanish artist Paco Pomet, the Schomberg Gallery is showcasing the work of New York Film Academy MFA students, and the Lois Lambert Gallery is highlighting the artwork of five female artists from Cuba throughout the day.

Hungry visitors can head to the Bergamot Station Café, The Grilled Cheese food truck or a frozen yogurt cart for a bite to eat from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when Ingo’s Tasty Diner/The Misfit is passing out free cookies.

Live music in the People’s Park provides the day’s soundtrack and artist Renae Barnhard holds community engagement activities all day.

In the evening, the EXPO-SÉ turns to live performance, starting with a 7 p.m. performance by the Venice Symphony Orchestra at Bergamot Station Café. Then the players of City Garage take to the stage at 8 p.m. for “Othello/Desdemona,” a radical reimagining of the Shakespearean tragedy (see page 41).

Ultimately, EXPO-SÉ’s organizers hope that throwing this huge celebration of art and transit will have a “positive impact” on Bergamot Station Arts Center’s gallery scene.

“We hope it will draw crowds from all over Los Angeles to a thriving and important cultural arts center,” says McNeill, speaking on behalf of the organizing committee.

So hop on the train and don’t be late. A new kind of art party is pulling into Bergamot Station.

EXPO-SÉ is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday (with events continuing into the night) at Bergamot Station Arts Center, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica. Visit bergamotstation.com for a complete rundown of galleries.