logo courtesy of Beautify Earth

In the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, Santa Monica will have a weekend devoted to feminine empowerment.

Two (non-associated) events, ‘Me Too: Art and Feminism Now’ and Beautify Earth’s ‘Every Woman Mural Painting Event’ will lead Santa Monica into a thought-provoking art and discussion filled weekend designed to empower feminine activism.

“Inspiration came when, with millions of others, I marched on January 21, 2017, in the Women’s March,” Gregg Chadwick, founder of the ‘Me Too: Art and Feminism Now’ event, says. “I wanted to help carry the spirit forward. With the full support of our artist community at Santa Monica Art Studios, we turned our focus to create a platform where ideas about feminism and women’s rights would be center stage.”

Chadwick’s event will feature a congregation of creative “artists, filmmakers, writers, thinkers, and creators,” bringing their own unique life experiences and stories to the Saturday panel.

Names included will be: moderator Kathleen McHugh, a chair of the Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media at UCLA, who was formerly director of the Center for the Study of Women at UCLA; Kim Schoenstadt, who began the ‘Now Be Here’ photography project, a nationwide project to attract visibility for women artists; Michele Pred, who makes illuminated, neon lit lettered purses with feminist phrases such as “Equal Pay” and “Nasty Woman”; Filmmaker Yareli Arizmendi, and Krista Suh, an author as well as creator of the now-signature look of the Women’s Marches, the Pink Pussyhat.

Krista Suh in her signature hat. PHOTO CREDIT: Rachael Lee Stroud

Suh’s ubiquitous protest-wear was initially inspired by practicality (“I had to dress for Winter in L.A.”) but became crystallized with the first whispers of the Women’s March. With her art background (college and a former job at LACMA), Suh knew in a visual-dominated world, these easy-to-make-for the masses, DIY pink hats could signify unity, something symbolic and lasting.

“It harkens back to Betsy Ross, who made the American flag,” Suh says. “If you think about it, that was our first protest gear as a nation. I thought (the pink hats) would be a wonderful visual of us coming together. These hats say ‘we’re not alone.’”

Occurring the day after Chadwick’s event will be Beautify Earth’s ‘Every Woman Mural Painting Event’. Heather Rabun, co-founder of Beautify Earth, started the organization originally to end “urban blight,” painting murals and words of positivity over decaying, decrepit walls throughout Santa Monica and then other cities.

The program revitalized businesses and communities that participated, increasing revenue by up to 50%, according to Beautify Earth’s website.

Although the program was thriving, Rabun noticed many street artists surrounding her were men and wanted to address that in a visual, community-benefitted way.

“There are a lot of street artists out there,” Rabun says. “But many are men. Women don’t have that platform. So this becomes something more to me than just ending urban blight.”

In light of the political climate, Rabun notes these plans were in action before #MeToo and #TimesUp, calling the timing serendipitous. “It only makes our program stronger.”

The wall Beautify Earth will be painting over is the side of a Subway off Pico, facing Santa Monica College. Rabun’s goal is to have the piece give impressionable minds and passerbys “a sense of women with these murals, a sense of their humanity”.

Artist Davia King will be doing the painting of the event’s mural, a piece consisting of two silhouetted figures embracing. King hopes the piece delivers a message of peace.

“We all want the same things,” King says. “Opportunities, happiness, something to give to the next generation. When people come together and collaborate, we thrive.”

Me Too: Art and Feminism Now will take place Saturday, January 27th, 1-3pm in the Arena 1 Gallery at the Santa Monica Art Studios, 3026 Airport Avenue.

Beautify Earth’s Every Woman Mural Painting: A Community Celebration takes place Sunday, January 28th, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Subway on 1801 Pico Boulevard. Santa Monica Council Woman Gleam Davis will be in attendance.

Both are free events.