The cast of characters from Bob Baker Marionette Theater have made their way to the Santa Monica Pier, and residents are invited to view the one-of-a-kind retrospective from now until Jan. 7, 2021.
The Windows of Wonderment celebrates the iconic theater’s legacy through a series of window installations that each seek to bring a historic BBMT production to life. The installation is free and open to the public, which is invited to stop by the Pier’s merry go-round for a peek at the scenes from the outdoors.
Director of Development and Community Partnerships Winona Bechtle said the theater has a long history of doing window displays. In fact, the tradition dates all the way back to one of his first shows Baker ever saw in a department store when he was just a kid around the 1930s, and some of his first jobs were window displays for places like Disneyland’s Main Street in 1955.
“So we have a really long history of doing them — maybe even longer than we do doing puppet shows,” Bechtle said with a laugh. “So, it’s really cool that people will get to see this wide history of ours thanks to this partnership with the Santa Monica Pier.”
The Windows of Wonderment offers a look into the different shows that have been hosted throughout the decades. “They range from the first show we did in 1955 to shows that were done in the ‘80s. So when you walk around, you kind of get a timeline of all of the different things we’ve been doing over the last 75 years,” Bechtle said.
The installation was made possible by the Art of Recovery Fund, a COVID-19 economic recovery initiative by the City of Santa Monica, and local officials like Negin Singh, executive director of the Santa Monica Pier Corporation, are excited to celebrate the holidays alongside the team from the Bob Baker Marionette Theater.
“LA is home to so many iconic artists and venues, and Bob Baker Marionette Theater ranks high on that list. To bring them to our own iconic destination at the Pier in this exciting way for the holidays is a moment of light and hope for all of us out there still trying to bring art and magic during these difficult times,” Singh said prior to the windows’ installation last week.
Bechtle added the exhibits couldn’t have been completed without the fabulous theater community. “We have just an amazing group of scenic painters, builders, and volunteers and fans of the theater who came together to replicate a lot of our historic designs,” she said.
“And many of the windows are like colored stories because they feature an array of red fabrics, gold fabric, green fabrics — and it really just pulls from our collection of thousands of Marionette shows. The scenes are really dynamic,” Bechtle added. “There’s motion; there’s amazing scenic paintings and each of them features some of our most antique puppets. It’s almost like a whole show inside of a window.”