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(photo by Santa Monica Place)

In celebration of the opening of Santa Monica Place, slated for Aug. 6, a new program has been launched where up to 100 local designers, artists, retailers and community leaders will create individual expressions of art and fashion using mannequins.

The program, The Mannequin Collective, was announced on Thursday and will make Santa Monica Place the setting for a three-week, on-site exhibit of these original art expressions. The program is also a partnership that benefits Otis College of Art and Design, which Santa Monica Place will donate $10,000 in scholarships at the school in the name of the Grand Design winner of the juried event.

Using blank, full-size mannequins as their canvas, the 100 participants will make their designs using a broad range of artistic materials including paint, beads, wire, mosaic glass, shoes, recycled objects, and more. The top five mannequins will then be chosen by a jury of local artists and community leaders, and will be displayed at the Otis campus in Westchester, as well as the fashion design location in downtown Los Angeles.

“Fostering artistic expression is important to our community and to Otis, and The Mannequin Collective is an exciting way to link a new fashion destination with the city’s robust art and design world,” said Samuel Hoi, president of Otis.

Already Simon Doonan, creative director of Barneys New York department store, has signed on to transform one of the blank, everyday mannequins into something artful and extraordinary. Barneys Co-op is one of the more than 80 retailers and restaurants opening at the new Santa Monica Place.

— Daily Press

Two infants dead from whooping cough

First it was the mumps. Now it’s whooping cough.

Earlier this week, county health officials advised people to be on the lookout for the mumps after nine cases were reported this year, six of which were confirmed.

On Friday, Public Health Officer Dr. Jonathan Fielding issued another warning, this time focusing on pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough. Fielding said 73 possible cases have been reported in Los Angeles County this year, 19 of which have been confirmed by laboratory testing. Two infants have died because of the disease.

With this level of activity, the county could exceed last year’s total of 155 reported cases.

“In particular, we’re very concerned that two infants have already died this year due to pertussis,” Fielding said. “Typically, Los Angeles County has one or no deaths due to pertussis each year.”

Pertussis is vaccine-preventable disease spread by the coughing of an infected individual. Typical symptoms in young children include intense coughing accompanied by a whooping sound, and post-cough vomiting. Complications can include pneumonia and seizures. Among older children and adults, the primary symptom may be a cough that often lasts for several weeks or longer.  If you suspect that you or a loved one may have pertussis, contact your doctor right away.

“Infants under one year of age are at highest risk for developing severe complications, and tragically are usually infected by a family member or caretaker,” Fielding said. “That is why we recommend that people with a cough illness of any kind avoid contact with infants. And of course, anyone who has frequent contact with an infant should be doubly sure that their vaccinations are up-to-date.”

Children should receive three primary vaccinations containing the pertussis vaccine and two boosters by age four to six, followed by a TDaP booster (which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) during their preteen years. Any teen or adult who has not received a TDaP booster yet should do so, particularly if they live in a household with an infant.

County residents are encouraged to contact their regular healthcare provider to arrange for recommended vaccinations. Those who do not have a regular healthcare provider or insurance coverage for vaccines may dial 2-1-1 or visit www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/ip for referrals to providers and community sites offering immunizations free or at a reduced-charge.

— DP

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