Nearly 1,200 miles northeast of Westchester lies Missoula, Montana, a river valley town burrowed deep in the Northern Rockies. While it’s often recognized for its lush forests and thriving parks and recreation, Missoula also boasts an impressive cultural hub, housing a vital literary and art scene. Arising from this landscape comes Ballet Beyond Borders (BBB), a global festival that fuses education, diplomacy and creativity amongst artists across cultural and geographic lines through diverse genres of dance. Originally launched at the Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre headquartered there, Ballet Beyond Borders aims to help youth not only sharpen their artistic craft, but also foster a better understanding of social justice issues faced by groups of people worldwide.
Next time you stop by Noodle World on Sepulveda or drop off your dry cleaning at Spring Cleaners, make sure to check out the alleyway connecting the building at 8636 Sepulveda Blvd. to the parking lot.
What were once gray stucco walls have been transformed into four colorful panels, depicting some of Westchester’s most recognizable landmarks. Otis students in the Creative Action Program, led by instructor and muralist David Russell, researched, designed and painted the murals to help beautify the thoroughfare. Otis lecturer, Maura Condrick, also contributed to the design. This is the latest local public art piece for Russell, the artist behind the five-story “Welcome to Westchester” painting on the building at Westchester Pkwy. and Sepulveda Blvd., made possible through a partnership with the Drollinger Family Charitable Foundation.
Colorful mini-murals on utility boxes are popping up all over the neighborhood, thanks to talented artists who are helping bring more public art to the community and beautifying some of the area’s busiest thoroughfares.
Noticing that other areas in L.A. had artwork on their utility boxes, NCWP President Cyndi Hench thought bringing the program to Westchester/Playa would help transform the drab, gray boxes into cool, colorful additions to the neighborhood’s streetscapes. She connected with the newly formed Westchester/Playa Arts Committee for support on the project and a call for artists was put out early last year. The committee, which is made up of local residents, business leaders, community group representatives and artists, was delighted by the proposals they received.
“We were amazed at the level of artwork that was submitted,” said committee member and LMU Senior Director of Auxiliary and Business Services, Andy O’Reilly. “The selection of the mural artists was tough! There were so many incredibly unique interpretations of what this community represents. The utility box mural project, and the fact that this volunteer public art committee exists, speaks to the community’s commitment to public art and to our talented neighborhood artists.”
With funding from the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa (NCWP), Councilmember Mike Bonin’s office and the Drollinger Family Charitable Foundation (DFCF), with support from the Playa Venice Sunrise Rotary Club, 11 designs were selected and approved by the committee, the NCWP and the city. Artists began painting in mid-January, and all of the boxes are anticipated to be completed by March.
“We’re already hearing great feedback from the community about how the boxes are resonating with people, making them proud of their community and interested in seeing increased beautification efforts,” said O’Reilly. “It’s great to hear that people are excited to see the art, and we’d like to thank the artists who have given their time and talent to help beautify our community.”
The Westchester/Playa Arts Committee is looking to secure additional funding and hopes to announce the next call for utility box artists in the spring.
Playa Vista artist, Jawsh Smyth, works as a graphic designer but in recent years has taken more of an interest in the fine arts.
His colorful, surreal and playful design depicts his alter-ego, Melting Man.
“Melting Man is a character that I started developing to address a couple of things on a global level—like climate change and global warming,” said Smyth, who got some help painting from his children. “But Melting Man has sort of became a representation of myself and dealing with the ups and downs of life. It’s sort of this multi-meaning character.”
Smyth is also the artist behind the 16-foot mural, “Oaxacan Dancer,” located at Westchester’s Cinco.
Check out Smyth’s utility box located on La Tijera Blvd. at Sepulveda Westway in Westchester.
Steve O’Loughlin has been a professional artist for more than 25 years and has been creating public art for more than 15.
A Westchester resident since the early 90s, O’Loughlin’s goal is to use his artistic skills to translate and express the spirit of the community. His utility box painting, which uses his signature knotwork patterns, is an homage to traffic as it flows smoothly and gets us safely to our destination.
“It’s a celebration of cooperation and watching out for your fellow man and following the rules,” said O’Loughlin. “I’ve used this design before, but never in such close proximity to actual traffic. It gave me a deeper appreciation of what the piece is about. I’ve worked with this pattern since I moved to L.A., and I think this is a great application for it.”
O’Loughlin has murals and artwork all over Westchester, including at Covenant Preschool, Holy Nativity Church, Wright Middle School and at numerous elementary schools.
Check out O’Loughlin’s artwork on the box located on Sepulveda Blvd. at Sepulveda Eastway in Westchester.
A toy designer by day, artist Valerie Gresham loves to draw and paint in her spare time, especially when it comes to sketching her dog, Sparky.
Gresham used Sparky, a Miniature Pinscher and his friend, Luna, as inspiration for her playful design that depicts the two playing in a local park while planes soar in the background.
“Having art in the community is a wonderful way to enhance the community. If the painting brings a smile to someone passing by, it is rewarding to them and to myself as the artist,” said Gresham. “As a resident in this community, I feel especially connected to this art project. For me as an artist, it is a great way to give back to the community I live in. I am enjoying seeing the other artists’ painting on the other boxes too.”
Check out Gresham’s design on the box located on Westchester Pkwy. at Pershing Dr. in Playa del Rey.
Gloria D. Lee, Leslie Lauerbach-Davis, Karen Taka and Marion Wong
Four local artists showed off their skills to complete a box in Playa del Rey showcasing the Ballona Wetlands. Artists Gloria D. Lee, Leslie Lauerbach-Davis, Karen Taka and Marion Wong are all members of the Westchester Senior Center Art Class and were the only group submission for this first round of utility box murals.
Lee has been teaching art classes in Westchester for more than 20 years, and the painters who submitted the design thought participating in the utility box mural project would be a great opportunity to give back to the community through art.
Check out the box, located on Pershing Dr. at Manchester Ave. in Playa del Rey, for scenes of the flora and fauna that help make up the Ballona Wetlands and the bike path.
Westchester’s Otis College of Art and Design is turning 100 on September 30, and the college is kicking-off a number of community collaborations to help celebrate its centennial. One of these first partnerships is with Los Angeles World Airports, which recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil artwork from 2018 Otis graduates.
The artwork, located in terminals throughout LAX, is part of the airport’s “100percentLA” campaign, designed to use art to highlight Los Angeles’ unique aesthetic and encourage visitors to take photos to post on social media.
“LAX is excited to partner with Otis College of Art and Design for the ‘100percentLA’ campaign, which highlights the creativity and vibrancy of our city as seen through the eyes of young local artists and designers,” said Keith Wilschetz, Deputy Executive Director for Emergency Management and Operations at LAX. “These exciting works of art, which will be installed throughout our LAX terminals this summer, help create a uniquely L.A. experience for our guests and provide an opportunity for them to engage in the campaign and share their own LA stories.”Continue reading →
Otis instructor, David Russell, in a collaboration with Karen Dial of Drollinger Properties, is busy transforming the Westchester Business District with colorful murals that pay homage to the community. Russell, who painted the 5-story mural on the Drollinger Office Building (located on the north west corner of Sepulvedaand Westchester Parkway), recently completed a new mural on the wall of Spring Cleaners. Continue reading →
Culver Boulevard’s Clean Aesthetic might be the hippest shop on the block due to the hard work and creative sensibilities of co-owners Aaron Rosenstock, Matt Rheault and Charlie Carroll.
Once a traditional surf and skate shop known for selling t-shirts with original designs, the shop is now attracting the attention of people, both locally and citywide, looking to buy one-of-a-kind pieces of art and prints that celebrate life, Los Angeles and the community of Playa del Rey. Continue reading →
After more than a month of painting and months of planning, artist and Otis professor, David Russell, completed his five-story “Welcome to Westchester” mural in early December. On December 18, the mural was officially dedicated at a ceremony in Westchester. Continue reading →
The Westchester Rotary is hosting the Jim Bunch Memorial Arts Scholarships open to 8th graders who reside or attend school in the Westchester, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista, Del Rey or Marina del Rey areas.
The Rotary Club is looking for candidates talented in the fine or performing arts. Applications will be broken up into three different categories:
• Entries must be original work, created by the individual contestant.
• Art entries must fall into one of the following categories: painting, drawing, photography, ceramic, sculpture or cultural.
• Art entries may not exceed 50 inches in any one direction.
• Limited to one soloist.
• Style is limited to classic ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, tap or cultural.
• Performance should be 1.5 to 2 minutes in length.
• Contestant may bring pre-recorded accompaniment.
• Contestant may be a vocalist, instrumentalist or both.
• Musical performance should be 1.5 to 3 minutes in length.
• Contestants may be accompanied by piano or guitar or may bring pre-recorded accompaniment.
The deadline for applications is Friday, February 24. Candidates must be available to perform or display their artistic entry on the afternoon of March 26 at LA Arts Collective in Westchester. Scholarships in amounts up to $1,000 will be announced at the end of the event.
For more information on the competition or to obtain an application, please contact Cozette Vergari email@example.com.
In September, the Westchester 75th Anniversary Committee put out a call for student artists in the area to create drawings using the theme “Our Little Piece of Paradise: Celebrating 75 Years of Westchester.” The committee received more than 100 entries from students ranging from 5-16, which displayed their artistic talent while highlighting Westchester. Judges from the committee and Councilmember Mike Bonin loved all of the submissions and selected a grand prize and 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winning drawings in the age groups of 5-9; 10-13; and 14-18. The winning drawings will be displayed in Councilmember Bonin’s Westchester office. Continue reading →
4/08/16 Update: IN CASE OF RAIN
If the weather does not cooperate on Saturday, shuttles will take participants back to Otis’ Main campus on Lincoln Blvd. where kite workshops will still take place. Stay tuned on Otis’ Facebook and Twitter for day-of updates.
Thousands of art enthusiasts, families and students will flock toSanta Monica Beach on Saturday, April 9 for Otis College of Art and Design’s Fifth Annual Kite Festival, created by the college’s Creative Action Program. Continue reading →