Music, Art & Community Combine at Westchester’s All-Day Block Party
Enjoy the last
weekend of summer by heading down to Emerson Avenue for one of the community’s
most popular family-friendly events—the Westchester Arts and Music Block Party
(WAM)! Featuring more than a dozen musical acts, food trucks, kids activities,
community booths, a beer & wine garden and more, the event is a chance for
an all-day hang-out session with friends you bring with you, and people you
meet along the way.
“We’re stoked for this year’s event,”
said event producer John Sharpe. “We have some great music and entertainment
acts lined up, a bunch of great food options and the best beer & wine
garden around! Make sure you don’t miss out. You’re bound to run into your
friends and neighbors, whether you’re rocking out to a band or doing arts &
crafts with your kids. The event is all about celebrating our community and
supporting the Emerson Avenue Community Garden, and in our fourth year, we’re
thrilled that WAM is becoming a Westchester tradition.”
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.
Westport Heights Elementary School (WHES) has a new mural thanks to the help of the Westchester Rotary. The service club partnered with the Westchester elementary school for its fifth annual Community and Beautification Day on Saturday, May 5. Parents, community members, students and Rotarians helped beautify the school by painting doors and columns, gardening and cleaning up the campus.
Otis College of Art and Design instructor, David Russell, along with Westchester Rotarians, also facilitated two mural projects. The “We are Westport” interactive permanent mural now welcomes students in the front entryway of the campus and was painted and designed by the school community. The mural not only represents the mission and values of the school’s culture, but also the individual identity of the student artists.
The other mural, a movable art piece on six different panels, allowed younger students to participate in the project and show their creativity, while learning the values of the school which include trustworthiness, caring, responsibility, respect, citizenship and fairness.
Pictured: Russell (left) poses with Rotarians and WHES principal, Jacqueline Hughes (third from left), in front of the new mural. Photo Courtesy Westchester Rotary.
Now through July 1, visitors to Marina del Rey’s Burton Chace Park can view “Sunset Vestige,” a temporary public art piece reminiscent of the glow of a California sunset. Created by local artist Patrick Shearn of Poetic Kinetics and funded by the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the piece consists of more than 40,000 suspended red, orange, black, silver and purple streamers that sway with the wind. Covering a 5,000-square-foot site next to the water, Shearn’s artwork is meant to evoke the phenomenon of “flocking,” where schools of fish or insects swarm or move together in the same direction. The use of transparent netting to hang the streamers creates the illusion that they are floating on their own.
To engage the public, organizers are asking visitors to answer the question, “If this artwork could dance, what song would it dance to?” and create videos of “Sunset Vestige” with music. The videos can be posted on social media with #sunsetvestige. The most creative videos each week will be shared on Poetic Kinetics’ social media pages.
Burton Chace Park is located at 13650 Mindanao Way in Marina del Rey.
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 →
Interested in helping beautify the community through art?
We are looking for artists to apply to paint murals on utility boxes in Westchester and Playa del Rey!
Applications have been extended to January 22, 2018 due to the holidays.
Selected artists will be contacted in the new year with painting anticipated to begin in January/February.
Selected artists will receive a fixed stipend for materials. During this first round of the Utility Box Mural Project, approximately 10 designs will be selected to be painted on boxes along major thoroughfares in Westchester and Playa del Rey.
If you’ve ever wanted to knit a scarf, crochet a blanket or complete a needlepoint to hang on your wall, the L.A. County Yarn Crawl is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.
During the four-day event, taking place from Thursday, April 6 through Sunday, April 9, Westchester’s Needlepoints West will be one of 20 stores throughout L.A. County that is opening its doors for newbies, novices and experts for a day filled with yarn, crafting, giveaways and more. 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 →
The artists and designers of the Class of 2014 at Otis College of Art and Design are presenting a two-day, public exhibition of their work on Saturday and Sunday, May 10 and 11.
Otis’ annual exhibition has a long and rich history and this year the program has changed from a weekday event to a weekend-long celebration of innovation and creativity.
For two days, the entire campus is being transformed into an art fair featuring the final projects of the year by the seniors receiving Bachelor of Arts degrees in a wide-range of majors including Continue reading →