CITY HALL — Planning is underway for the second installment of Glow, Santa Monica’s signature, dawn-to-dusk art event that drew roughly 200,000 people to the Santa Monica Pier and beach in the summer of 2008 to experience exhibits that lit up the night sky.
Jessica Cusick, City Hall’s cultural affairs manager, said she is working with leaders in the art world to develop a program that will be similar to the first session and include a wide cross section of creative minds to produce original work that is interactive and participatory.
“Glow instantly became Santa Monica’s signature cultural event,” Cusick said. “It is an opportunity for us to celebrate our community’s unique attributes as a center for culture and innovation.”
Glow is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 25.
Partners on the project include the Santa Monica Arts Foundation, the Bayside District Corp., the Pier Restoration Corp. and the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Internationally acclaimed artist Celeste Boursier-Mougenot, who is known for producing music from unexpected sources, is expected to tour Santa Monica this week to scout possible locations to exhibit his work for Glow.
His work frequently includes commonly found objects such as inflatable wading pools, dinnerware, electric guitars, pianos and vacuum cleaners. Objects are carefully situated in spaces as performing sculptures; for instance the wading pools in which dinnerware floated were subject to induced ripples causing plates to gently collide, with sounds amplified by sensitive microphones. The space becomes a concert hall of mesmerizing sounds emanating from the most ordinary of circumstances. More recently, Boursier-Mougenot has incorporated digital interventions and audience-activated sounds within his artwork. He has shown extensively in museums throughout Europe, North and South America and Asia.
His project is being made possible in part by the French Consulate and Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel.
Glow’s Curatorial Committee has been meeting to select an exciting array of artists who will once again ensure the total transformation of the beach, pier and Palisades Park.
The committee includes: Mary Beebe; Stuart Collection, University of California, San Diego; Malik Gaines, artist, Los Angeles; Tom Leeser, director, The Center for Integrated Media, California Institute for the Arts; Lisa Melandri, deputy director for exhibitions and programs, Santa Monica Museum of Art; Marc Pally, artistic director, Glow, and Alma Ruiz, curator, MOCA, Los Angeles.
The committee will announce the complete first group of selected artists in February. Also In February, City Hall plans to issue a request for proposals which will provide artists from throughout the region interested in ephemeral and participatory work with a chance to submit projects for consideration.
“Glow invites participants to engage with and re-imagine familiar places through the minds and eyes of artists,” Pally said.
While it did manage to draw a huge crowd, helping local restaurants and bars raise revenues, there were many critics of Glow 2008. Those who posted their displeasure on blogs said there were not enough exhibits and those that were on display were underwhelming and too small to be enjoyed by the thousands that showed up. Traffic and a lack of parking were also high on the list of complaints. Some felt the art took a back seat to drinking and drugs.
Those who supported the event said the art was average, but the real beauty was the diversity found in the crowd and the ability to meet new people.
Moving the event to the fall may cut down on the number of people attending. City officials said they will be more prepared to deal with the large number of expected visitors. In 2008, there were as many as 75,000 people at the pier and beach at one time, making it difficult for police to maintain control.
SMPD Sgt. Jay Trisler, a spokesman for the department, said there will be more officers on hand and a more coordinated effort for crowd control.
“Just like we are doing for the [Los Angeles Marathon in March], we will be working with other entities within the city to address this,” Trisler said.
Cusick said the decision to hold the event in September instead of in the summer as in 2008 had more to do with helping local businesses during the colder months when tourism is down than with crowd control.
“We are looking to have more synergy with the hotels, who have greater vacancies in the fall than they do in the peak of summer,” she said. “We feel that it is kind of an exciting time of the year to do it. In the art world it is kind of when everything starts up again. We feel fall weather is close to ideal and its often quite warm so we feel like it will be a good fit.”
Cusick expects a third of the funding to come from City Hall, while the rest will come from private donors and corporate sponsors. City Hall spent roughly $100,000 on the event in 2008, according to previous reports.
More importantly than the cost is the benefit to local businesses, art lovers and the artists themselves, who will be paid to create original work for Glow, Cusick said.
“Everybody needs work,” she said. “Everybody needs an opportunity. People have been asking me all the time when we are going to bring it back, from restaurant owners to hotel managers to artists.
“It’s exciting when you get that kind of cross section of demand.”