By Michael Aushenker
There’s more going on at Santa Monica Airport than Cessnas taking off and landing.
“It’s a lot more than that!” said the airport’s communications director, Kate Schlesinger, who wants to reach Santa Monicans and Angelenos in general with its open house from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21.
“A lot of people have never even been to the airport,” she said. “We want to show the community what is actually here at the airport. There’s the Museum of Flying, a garden, a park, observation decks to watch the planes.”
There is also a 22,000-square foot hangar where artists retain private studio space and participate in classes, lectures and exhibitions at Arena 1, the airport’s on-site gallery. With 28 art studios and a gallery, Santa Monica Art Studios, conceived by Yossi Govrin, is a hangar that was repurposed four years ago when a sea of competition from technology companies and film studios rolled into Santa Monica to snatch up affordable work spaces. Schlesinger said that the Art Studios has more artists per square foot than any other complex in Los Angeles.
The open house was conceived in December 2011 “as part of our airport visioning process,” led by Robert Trimborn, former manager of Santa Monica Airport, Schlesinger recalled. After that initial invitational, “we added a larger element of outreach,” she continued, and the September 2012 open house event attracted some 1,200 people, according to Schlesinger.
As if the fine arts were not enough, Michael Ruskin founded the Ruskin Group Theatre, which mounts plays and conducts acting classes.
At the Sept. 21 event, artist Cassandra Tondro will lead each participating child to create their own abstract painting out of recycled, non-toxic latex paints (a project supported by the city Office of Sustainability and Environment). This activity, “Cans to Canvas,” will be held on the front lawn of 3200 Airport Ave.
The open house will include self-guided walking tours and guided mini-bus tours, Civil Air Patrol talks regarding aircraft on display, a MaxFlight 360 Flight Simulator at the airport’s Museum of Flying, and a chance for children to meet members of the Santa Monica Fire Department and pilots of the Ninety-Nines, the international organization of female pilots founded in 1929 by 99 women that included their first president, Amelia Earhart.
Schlesinger added that the site’s Airport Administration Building will be awarded the city of Santa Monica’s first Green Office Award.
Admission and parking are free, and, in addition to Airport restaurants Typhoon and Spitfire Grill, a trio of food trucks will be parked on the tarmac: Gastropub, Dogtown Dogs and S’cream Ice Cream Truck.