Local artists Karen Chorney (center right) and her friend Mary Lou Bentley admire the works of artists Zafer Sari at the Santa Monica Airport Art Walk on Airport Avenue Saturday afternoon. Once a year the Artwalk gives more than 60 local artists a chance to showcase their work to the public. (photo by Brandon Wise)

SMO — Sixty artists will demonstrate their wares at the fifth annual Airport Artwalk, a festival celebrating local products, food and fun in conjunction with the Buy Local Expo taking place on Saturday.

Visitors will get the opportunity to peruse works of art and take in theater, courtesy of the Ruskin Theater group, and tunes from the Mad Alsacians, an accordion-driven ensemble that performs early 20th century French music.

Galleries are also putting on workshops for children, including 30-minute painting sessions and build-your-own planters with real seeds that kids can tend long after the event ends.

The majority of the artists on display own studio space at the airport, with 15 outsiders showing their work in the hangar gallery of the Santa Monica Art Studio.

Works include painting, sculpture, ceramics and mixed media.

The event gives the airport’s community an opportunity to showcase the unique arts culture built in an unconventional space, said Deena Mecham, property administrator at the airport.

“Once a year we just open it up, turn it into a community event and it took off,” Mecham said. “I really wanted to show neighbors of the airport how many wonderful things happen here. It’s inspiring.”

Airport Artwalk is a program almost 30 years in the making, when low-budget artists began congregating in the cheap studio space.

The real push to turn the upper section of the airport into a miniature artist colony came in 2000, when other art facilities got priced out of the area, Mecham said.

The City Council designated three of the buildings “artist only,” and set about attracting up-and-comers.

Artists find a real home at the airport, where the smell of paint goes unnoticed and the community of creative people inject the place a lively atmosphere, Mecham said.

Greg Gioiosa has held a studio space at the airport for 18 years. He’s currently working overtime trying to get his eight mixed media pieces completed before the show.

“It’s been a wonderful place to work,” Gioiosa said. “The city has been very generous with the artists, giving them the opportunity to have nice studio space for a reasonable rate. In essence, they’ve encouraged the creative endeavor.”

Gioiosa’s works, which range in size from 4-foot-by-5-foot canvases to twice that, employ acrylics, oils, collage and other mediums to create layered looks that express ideas ranging from the perception of physical change to time itself.

“I get the ability to explore a lot of different materials, and the interaction of those materials with each other,” he said.

Other exhibits include Evolution Revolution, a collaborative art exhibit that brings together a number of artists to create a socially conscious exhibit focusing on animal welfare and the environment.

Visitors will also get a sneak preview of the Museum of Flying, which officially opens in summer 2011.

This year’s show departs from previous years by including food trucks and live music, said Allison Ostrovsky, cultural affairs supervisor with City Hall.

“We started working on this in November,” Ostrovksy said. “We have different partners, making sure everyone’s on board, working with artists and employees.”

The Artwalk will also have a first-ever bicycle valet, part of an ongoing effort to encourage sustainable modes of transportation to city events.


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