ARTsea returns to Mother’s Beach for two days of art, music, food & seaside fun

By Christina Campodonico

Dengue Fever brings their international fusion of classic Cambodian songs and rock to the ARTsea stage

You could say this year’s ARTsea is making up for lost time. After bursting onto the scene in the summer of 2017, the public arts festival took a hiatus last year as Marina “Mother’s” Beach closed for renovations. With the beach back in business, ARTsea returns for a second round — this time for two days instead
of one.

“We’re back with twice as much,” says Carol Baker of the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors. “I think there’s a great mix and mashup of artists and galleries and performers, and it will be very fun.”

This weekend’s live music and dance performances, art installations, gallery displays, food trucks, a wine & beer garden, artisans’ marketplace and various interactive workshops kick off at 11 a.m. Saturday, creating an ephemeral pop-up arts district in Marina del Rey through 6 p.m. Sunday.

Here are five ways to maximize your fun during this celebration of art, the ocean and Los Angeles County’s creative diversity.

1. Go Around the World with Music in Two Days

The varied cultural strains of Los Angeles converge at ARTsea’s main stage, where on Saturday you can hear Peruvian surf pop by La Chamba at 4:30 p.m., Dengue Fever’s Cambodian-influenced rock at 6:30 p.m., or relive the ’60s-defining sound of the Grateful Dead with L.A.-based tribute band Grateful Shred at 8:30 p.m.

On Sunday, Jazzy Ash and the Leaping Lizards bring the bayou-buoyed sounds of The Crescent City to SoCal at 11 a.m., while Boogaloo Assassins blend Latin soul, funk, salsa and boogaloo (which traces its roots to Afro-Cuban dance rhythms) to close out the music side of ARTsea from 5 to 6 p.m.

2. Try Out Global Dance Flavors with Contra-Tiempo & Friends

Hearing all these lively beats may make you want to get up and dance. Fortunately, urban Latin dance theater troupe Contra-Tiempo and friends have got the dance floor covered. On Sunday from 1 to 2 p.m., Contra-Tiempo will get you moving and grooving with their “Sabor Session,” teaching Afro-Latin social dances and showing an excerpt from their repertoire. Betty Rox leads Caribbean dance jam sessions at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday; Kati Hernandez teaches an Afro-Cuban dance session at 2 p.m. Sunday; and Bollywood Step Dance brings the colorful and energetic dance stylings of Indian cinema to life at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

3. Meditate in an Octopus’ Garden

After shaking your booty and bobbing your head, take time to chill out under  Aphidoidea art collective’s giant sea creature installations, which resemble plankton, seaweed and even jellyfish, observes Mariana Perez-Seda, Director of Production for Events and Festivals for Community Arts Resources (CARS), which has partnered with Beaches and Harbors to organize ARTsea.

“They look as if you’re walking among some sort of sea life,” she says, “and in the evening they’ll be lit.”

You can also find some Zen in San Diego artist Jose Sainz’s wind garden, a collection of feather flags along the beachside of ARTsea that will hopefully flutter with the wind.

“It will be like a sculptural garden,” says Perez-Seda. With the wind blowing and some sand between your toes, go ahead and say, “Ohmmm!”

4.  Time Travel with Blast Ice Cream

While you have your mouth open, why not take your taste buds out of this world (or time period) with something a little unusual — say liquid nitrogen frozen ice cream?

Blast’s Prohibition-era themed ice cream truck serves up tongue-tingling sundaes inspired by old-school flavors and delivered through a very entertaining (and harmless) plume of liquid nitrogen “smoke!”

Treat your kid or inner child to a classic flavor like the So Much S’More (graham cracker crust ice cream, marshmallow cream & chocolate sauce) or Total Recall (vanilla ice cream & whip topped with crushed peanuts and a duo of chocolate and butterscotch sauce). Both will make you wax nostalgic for youthful summer days spent at fairgrounds, as will the Kettle Corn sundae topped by “steaming” yet frozen bits of the classic carnival snack.

If you’re looking for something a little more mature, go for the High Fashion, a “complex sundae” inspired by an old fashioned cocktail and served with made-from-scratch cherry bourbon sauce, chocolate bitters, cold smoked Applewood bacon and a burnt sugar orange glaze.

5. Go to Craft Camp & Make Something Memorable

ARTsea’s eventful weekend offers plenty of opportunities to make memories, but why not also walk away with a one-of-a-kind souvenir? You can make your own at the Craft Camper, a bright blue vintage travel trailer, where visitors can channel ocean breezes into a nautically themed wind chime. The Silver Lake-based craft experience company Makers Mess also hosts a workshop on how to do block printing “farmers market-style” and lessons on how to make flower crowns inspired by the sea. Third to fifth graders can also learn how to enter their artwork into Beaches and Harbors’ ongoing “Can the Trash!” clean beach poster contest.

ARTsea happens from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday (May 18 & 19) at Marina “Mother’s” Beach and adjacent parking lots #10 and #11, 4101 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey. Admission is free. Visit
for the full event schedule.