People dip their hands into small sandboxes as their shadows are transmitted upon people playing in the adjacent beach at the ‘Sandbox’ designed by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer during Glow 2010. (Brandon Wise brandonw@smdp.com)

OCEAN AVE — When crowds flock to the Santa Monica Beach next September for the third installment of Glow, City Hall’s all-night arts event, they will be treated to some illuminating works inspired by the forces of nature and possibly comic books, city officials said Thursday.
During a press conference at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, a sponsor of Glow, which has attracted between 100,000 and 200,000 people during the course of one night, Mayor Richard Bloom announced the four lead artists who will do their best to entertain, inspire and challenge people to think about their place in the world.
“We are very excited that Glow is going to come back and be better than ever,” Bloom said.
The high expectations are in large part due to the lineup of artists, who include Janet Echelman, whose recent works include “Water Sky Garden,” which premiered for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics; Glenn Kaino, who will represent the U.S. at the Cairo Biennale 2013, considered to be one of the most important cultural events in the Middle East; Dr. Victoria Vesna, director of the Art/Sci center of the School of the Arts and California Nanosystems Institute who explores how perceptions of identity shift in relation to scientific innovation; and Rebeca Méndez, who is Glow’s first ever artist in residence.
Méndez, who is currently inspired by man’s impact on nature and how climate change is forcing a new era of migration and the redistribution of natural resources, will be charged not only with creating installations for Glow, but also events leading up to the event to draw interest and engage the community.
The Mexico City native could barely contain her excitement Thursday as she talked about her desire to immerse herself in Santa Monica’s culture and natural environment.
“This is really fantastic,” she said. “This community is full of energy and vitality. People are open-minded, creative and eager to help.”
That could be because Santa Monica is home to many creative minds. According to a study conducted by City Hall, 43 percent of residents make their living in the creative industries. Culture and the arts have also been included in Santa Monica’s Sustainable City Plan, a framework to leave the community in a better place for future generations.
“Santa Monica clearly values culture and sees it as an economic asset worthy of investment,” Méndez said. “And there’s all this sand here that I can’t wait to play with.”
Misti Kerns, president/CEO of the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau, a partner in Glow along with the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Santa Monica Inc., the Santa Monica Pier Corp. and KCRW, said Glow has helped raise Santa Monica’s profile abroad, letting those overseas know that it is a destination rich in culture.
It’s also a boon for some businesses that choose to stay open late and offer specials. Several hotels were fully booked in 2010, something which encouraged city officials to move the event from summer to September, when hotel stays were lighter.
City officials plan on a budget of $650,000 for Glow, which includes payments to the artists as well as in-kind contributions. Glow receives $100,000 in public funds, according to previous reports.
Additional artists will be selected over the coming months through the Glow network and through an open call for artists to be issued later this year, said Jessica Cusick, City Hall’s Cultural Affairs director.
Glow, which was inspired by “Nuit Blanche,” a French creation that put art on display at night, debuted in 2008 to mixed reviews. The art was well-received, but the estimated 200,000 people that swarmed the city expecting a rave atmosphere killed the mood for many who had difficulty getting to the installations at the heart of the event.
Cusick said city officials have grown wiser and took an extra year to plan for 2013 to help make the experience better.
“Third time’s a charm,” Cusick said.
For more information on Glow, visit http://glowsantamonica.org/

kevinh@smdp.com