MICHIGAN AVENUE — There won’t be a cancer-surviving superstar cyclist or sights of the French countryside but the inaugural Tour da Arts in Santa Monica promises to highlight some of the biggest cultural landmarks in the city.
More than 100 people are expected to show up for the Santa Monica Museum of Arts’ (SMMOA) event Saturday that showcases a trio of major players in the areas of theater, fine and performing arts through a nine-mile bike ride, stopping at The Broad Stage, Miles Memorial Playhouse and 18th Street Arts Center.
The event is part of the museum’s ongoing series called Cause for Creativity, which focuses on using the arts to raise social awareness. This particular installment will focus on environmental issues.
“It’s based on saving energy and alternative forms of energy in which we’re using power from our bodies to get around town,” Asuka Hisa, the director of education for SMMOA, said.
Co-hosting the event is C.I.C.L.E. (Cyclists Inciting Change thru LIVE Exchange,) a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that holds monthly bike rides called Urban Expeditions and will plan the route and navigate participants when the tour kicks off at 5 p.m. from Bergamot Station.
The C.I.C.L.E. team will include Liz Elliott, the executive director who from the front will serve as captain and guide the group safely to their various stops. Assisting her will be about a dozen trained ride leaders — identifiable from their yellow vests — who will be scattered in the crowd of cyclists, making sure that the group will always have a C.I.C.L.E. representative in case they’re separated by a traffic signal.
The organization has also coordinated the Pasadena ARTRide.
“We are savvy at this point on how to lead a large group ride,” Elliott said.
The first leg of the trip will take the riders to the corner of 11th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard, home of The Broad Stage, Santa Monica College’s $45 million performing arts center that opened last year. The theater was designed by Santa Monica architect Renzo Zecchetto, whose work was honored by California Construction Magazine. It features a 499-seat theater, combining the intimacy that comes with a small space with the high-end acoustics of a larger venue.
The riders will receive an open house tour and be treated to live music by a visiting African drumming troupe.
Their next stop will be the Miles Memorial Playhouse, an 80-year-old small theater tucked inside Christine Emerson Reed Park on Lincoln Boulevard. The playhouse was constructed after late City Councilman J. Euclid Miles and his wife Katherine bequeathed $25,000 after his death for a “public recreation hall for the young men and women of the city.”
The playhouse, which was dedicated to Miles’ daughter, Mary, was designed by renown local architect John Byers, who made his mark on homes throughout the Westside, including in Santa Monica, the Pacific Palisades and Brentwood. Awaiting the cyclists at the stop will be a swing band performance to which they can dance.
About two and a half hours after the beginning of the ride, the cyclists are scheduled to finally arrive at the 18th Street Arts Center where a tour of various studios and a new exhibit will await them. The 21-year-old complex includes several artist live-work spaces and houses various nonprofit organizations.
The exhibit, called Post American L.A., features artists who “question the scope, sphere and impact of American authority,” according to the 18th Street Arts Center Web site. Ashley Hunt, an artist in the show, will also give a talk about his work.
The mission of Tour da Arts could resonate with the artists who live at the 18th Street Arts Center, many of whom commute by bicycle. The next show at the art center will also focus on a car-less society, Ronald Lopez, the program coordinator, said.
“The encouragement of using bikes to go from one center to the next center is a fantastic idea,” Lopez said. “Hopefully we will see (more) future events like this.”