Category: Arts & Events

Searching for Dreamers

The Sam Francis Fellowship will send artists abroad By Bridgette M. Redman In the 1950s, painter and printmaker Sam Francis left Santa Monica to take up residency in Paris. Soon after, he established residences in Tokyo, Mexico City and numerous cities around the globe. These journeys helped shape Francis into an artist who dominated the Santa Monica artistic community while achieving international prominence. Francis’ travels were inspirational to him. Recognizing that, the Sam Francis Foundation extends this legacy to other American artists, giving them a chance to travel abroad and develop their work. The foundation reached out to Santa Monica’s 18th Street Arts Center, Southern California’s largest artist residency center that has hosted approximately 35 artists a year from around the world for the past 30 years. Together, Sam Francis Foundation and 18th Street Arts Center created “Call to Dream,” an ongoing residency program. “It’s a huge, important visionary thing that the foundation has done — to choose to send American artists abroad,” said Jan Williamson, executive director of 18th Street Arts Center. “I have been in the residency business for a long time. To have the foundation focus on this for the sake of the artists, for their own professional development, is very visionary and forward-thinking. It’s pretty amazing. Other countries send their artists abroad all the time, the United States not so much.” Capturing Santa Monica’s stories...

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What’s 6 Feet?

Art initiative calls on community to share personal experiences of social distancing By Kamala Kirk Since COVID-19 occurred last year, social distancing has played a major role in people’s lives. A new art campaign, “What’s 6 Feet?” is calling on the community to create responses that share their experiences of living life at a distance during the pandemic. Adam Wodka, owner of Image360 South Bay, a sign and graphics company in El Segundo, has partnered with Marni Gittleman, a Santa Monica community engagement artist, for the COVID-19 resilience project. The partnership came to fruition after Wodka launched his company’s “Signs of Inspiration” campaign. Through the campaign, Image360 South Bay was providing businesses and organizations with inspirational signage around the rebound of small businesses. Just as the campaign launched, Wodka was contacted by Gittleman, who wanted to work together after receiving a grant through the Art of Recovery program, an initiative of the City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs. “I created the ‘What’s 6 Feet?’ project as a way to honor and express our experiences of what 6 feet apart has meant,” Gittleman said. “Through stenciled question prompts painted around town and shared on social media, these visual displays offer an artful way to engage, connect and safely share public space. All are invited to be a part, together!” The campaign calls on the community to create responses that share...

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Recovery of LA’s Creative Sector

  Arts organization releases 2021 policy platform and advocacy agenda By Sofia Santana Arts for LA — a network of local artists and advocates who help bring the arts to Los Angeles County students and residents — recently held a virtual policy platform and advocacy agenda meeting to learn about the result of months of collaboration and hear from community members. The meeting was led by Arts for LA executive director Gustavo Herrera and Cordelia Istel, director of organizing. It began by recognizing the barriers and disruptions many local artists are facing during the ongoing pandemic. “We know that creative communities have been hit extraordinarily hard, and 2020 was an incredibly difficult year for so many of us in the field, whether we’re artists, arts workers or arts organizations,” Herrera said. “We know that COVID-19 has unearthed some of the structural inequities that exist and that have always existed in our field.” Herrera also shared key values that the agenda highlighted: recognizing that the pre-pandemic status quo did not work; focusing on low-income and BIPOC creative communities, organizations and workers who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and systemic inequity; and taking an intersectional approach to the issues. “A lot of the impacts of the pandemic have really hit our sector much like a disaster that has left devastation in its wake, and we need to think in this...

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Inspired by Isolation

Opus Orange releases new EP during pandemic By Kamala Kirk Armed with just a laptop, USB mic and some instruments that fit into a backpack, composer Paul Bessenbacher (PB) camped out in a kitschy Airbnb living room with panoramic views of the ocean. While staying there, he rerecorded select songs from his album, “Miles From Nowhere,” which was released in February 2020 under his Santa Monica-based recording project Opus Orange. His new EP, “Miles From San Clemente,” came out in December 2020 and features reimagined versions of his songs from the album. “The songs from “Miles From Nowhere” explore the disorientation of arriving at the wrong destination and the need for intimacy, isolation and silence in a chaotic world,” PB said. “After they were finished but before they were released, I found myself alone in an Airbnb in San Clemente with a handful of instruments. Without a plan or any specific intent, I started recording and reimagining a few of the same songs from this isolated setting. After returning back to Santa Monica, I added Carlen Walth on pedal steel and Katie Hampton on vocals, which turned out to be just what the EP needed to stand on its own two feet. It’s a quiet internal meditation with sones originally conceived with a full band.” Opus Orange was founded in 2010 and over the years has morphed to include...

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Making Travel Bright

LAX unveils new art exhibitions after COVID-19 delay By Bridgette M. Redman Travelers passing through Terminal 1 of LAX are treated to four new art exhibitions, ranging from site-specific craft and murals to photography, sculptures and paintings. They include “LA Made,” “Korçare,” “In Search of Rainbows and Stardust” and “Window Seat.” Installed at the end of 2020, they were the first new art installations of the year, many that had been planned for the beginning of the year but had to be postponed because of the pandemic. “LAX is dedicated to spotlighting the vibrant art community of Los Angeles,...

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