Bumblebee’s Santa Monica family is growing with a temporary art installation on Colorado near the former Sears building.
The installation is the first part of a two-phase revitalization of the area begun by Council in June of this year when they approved two pilot programs in partnership with Downtown Santa Monica Inc.
The first program will bring rotating art exhibits to the triangular shaped grassy area at Main and Colorado. The newly dubbed “Triangle Square” will house multiple exhibits over the next 18 months and while the program doesn’t official begin until August, a preview piece has been installed by Los Angeles based artist Bumblebee.
“This programmatic partnership between the City of Santa Monica and Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. evolved through a mutual desire to infuse more art experiences in the downtown core,” said the City in a press release. “There was also a shared interest in activating public spaces with ephemeral work that would prompt people to traverse this active corridor. An artist list will be available to the public soon, so people will know what to anticipate and look out for over the next several months.”
When the project officially begins in August, the main feature on the Triangle will be joined by a series of smaller works lining the Promenade.
“The idea more holistically is there’s a large-scale installation on the triangle and our goal is furthering some of the city goals on mobility to encourage people to walk down the Promenade to Wilshire and there will be episodic artwork along the Promenade as you walk down to Wilshire,” said Cultural Affairs Manager Shannon Daut.
As the main piece rotates, so will the Promenade works with new art rotating in about every quarter. In some cases, all the work will be by a single artist or group but there will be times when the Promenade art is produced independently from the work on Colorado.
Daut said the goal is to create a program that is flexible enough to capitalize on the creativity of the local arts community.
“It’s using the surprise of an unexpected piece of art to ground you in place in a different way,” she said.
Some visitors will stumble upon the art as part of their normal business but the Downtown Ambassadors will also have maps available for individuals who want to create a self-guided tour.
Bumblebee is a Los Angeles County native and his work often features children.
The artist already has two permanent works in Santa Monica. The first is at 1640 5th Street (the building where the Daily Press is located) features a young girl on a surfboard with dolphins and rubber ducks. The second is at 7th and Wilshire in the recently remodeled building that houses Mendocino Farms and Sidecar Donuts. That work is of a young boy using binoculars to peer toward the ocean.
At the time of the second work’s installation, Bumblebee told the Daily Press the boy is the brother of the girl on the original work.
He began his career creating work using images in Photoshop before branching out into street art in the region. He gained a reputation and landed a legal commission for the Youth Homelessness Project in West Hollywood in 2011 for a work depicting children sleeping in an ally.
His art is created with a mix of stenciling and mixed media that produces images often described as whimsical. The artist said his works are usually site specific and they all include their own backstory.
He has completed several high-profile murals in the past few years including Keep Up, at Google headquarters in Venice Beach; Final Cut on the KODAK building in Hollywood and his Santa Monica works. Snapchat has asked him to create permanent geofilters around the country that feature designed images from murals as a background to any photo.
The work featured Downtown will be chosen by a six-member panel consisting of members from the DTSM Board and art knowledgeable citizens selected by the Arts Commission. The group received 120 proposals from artists and a final list of those chosen will be available soon.
In June, the City committed funds up to $225,000 for the art throughout downtown installations.
A second pilot-program would allow DTSM to provide additional services on the eastern side of Ocean Avenue, between Colorado and the northwest entrance to Tongva Park. Activities could include food service, retail and other uses to develop a sense of place and build community. Under the proposal, DTSM would be permitted to enter into sublicense agreements with operators selected through a competitive, public procurement process.
DTSM is a non-profit organization that is under contract with the City to manage programs, services and operations in downtown Santa Monica. The non-profit receives funding from two business-based assessment districts and three property-based assessment districts.
For more information, visit www.smgov.net/arts.