Glow, or Crapapalooza
The Santa Monica Pier is the site of many wonderful events; the Twilight Dance Series attracts better and more diversified musical talent every year, Taste of Santa Monica is a delicious treat for a very fair price, and the recent Red Bull event, featuring a high flying motorcycle, four sky diving professionals and a stunt helicopter, lived up to the hype. It was with great anticipation, therefore, that my husband and I decided to stroll down to the pier to witness “Glow” tonight. Signs and postcards all around town urged me, my neighbors, and co-workers to experience the artistic glow at the pier. Friends made plans to meet there, and traffic was backed up for miles with people who came to see this event. I envisioned the pier, swathed in an ethereal blanket of warmth and light, with various artists having the night sky as their gallery. What was actually on display? Not much. Most of the “art” actually took place on the beach, and consisted of people shining flashlights onto screens or sprays of water; there was something out on the water that looked like somebody had stuck a big white light inside a jelly fish and set it afloat, and there was a guy with a big plastic tube with a light inside. An interesting exhibit was underneath the pier, but was given no visible signage; my husband and I stumbled upon it when we went through the tunnel, seeking an easier way to get up onto the pier from the sand. Most of the pier looked pretty much the way it always does at night; you could get your name on a grain of rice, buy a cheap beach towel, and eat carnival food. The difference was that lines for the bathrooms were longer, and the only way to get through the disorganized crowd was to put your head down and barrel through like a linebacker. Entertainment was on a par with what one may see on the Third Street Promenade seven days a week. In short, my view of “Glow” is “Dim”.
Barbara P., Santa Monica
* * * *
Dear Angeleno Community,
Saturday night Santa Monica city hosted “glow,” an all night event focused on artistic vision expressed through light. “Glow” took over the Santa Monica pier, the surrounding beach and the Palisades Park. “Glow” promised to be a great celebration of all the beauty that could be California, a huge public art event exploring and glorifying light on the beach we are so lucky to have. After I received the first email describing the event I knew I could not miss this. Judging from the massive attendance, I was not alone in this feeling. It was heartwarming to see the Pier crawling with all members of the Angeleno community, swarming across the beach to the luminescent art installation, and otherwise enjoining the perks that living beach side affords us. I myself was almost glowing with the community spirit that was pulsing through the event.
Yet in the midst of this celebration, the ugliness of the Angelenos reached the height of its grotesque parody of itself tonight. The beach and artistic vision soured when the glow sticks of one artist sprawling across the beach in imitation of the tide shift of the ocean was destroyed by Angelenos tearing the glow sticks from their arrangement in the sand and stealing them away into the night or perverting their natural geometry with lewd shapes. The visionary artist was left to beg his glow sticks – his art – back from the thieves, many who simple refused. Where was the event staff to protect the project? A small band of preteen girls ran past me yelling at each other “Quick. Some guy’s collecting them. Hide them.” They were each carrying an arm full of glowing sticks. Where were the parents to teach their children simple decency? Hours later as I left, disappointed that Frank Rozasy’s “Illumination Migration” was unable to be recreated, I still saw people carrying away these glow sticks. They were designed just for this event, and were easily differentiated from the slender glow sticks for sale. And where were the police when this all fell apart to at least aid this artist in retrieving his scattered art? I did not see them.
Unfortunately I did not see the art either. Not the way the creator intended. I saw the glow sticks mimicking the movements of the crowd instead of “mimicking both the movements of the tide and more specifically the grunion’s coming ashore and returning to sea.” All I saw was the ugliness of the people of Santa Monica and Los Angeles. And it made me sick.
As an artist myself, although a very different kind, I can understand the wrenching pain that tears deep into the stomach when a creative endeavor of this magnitude or of any size, is destroyed by the very people it was meant to inspire. I know it is too much to ask every single person involved in this travesty is apologize to Frank Rozasy. But I am asking that all pilfered glow sticks be returned to him. And I ask the entire Angeleno community to think next time before they so selfishly destroy the creativity of an individual and the opportunity for others to share in the experience of artistic expression.
You can reach Frank Rozasy at email@example.com
* * * *
After a delay of four months since the unanimous passage of the Los Angeles City Council’s Resolution of February 29, 2008 renewing Beyond Baroque’s lease to all its current space at 681 Venice Blvd., for the next 25 years, the lease remains unsigned.
We have learned from sources inside City Hall that, contrary to the City Council Resolution of February 29, 2008, Beyond Baroque, a nationally recognized cultural institution based in Venice, may lose the part of the lease pertaining to its historic theater, the heart of its operations since 1979. Loss of the lease to its historic theater would cripple Beyond Baroque’s control over its future and severely impair its capacity to represent and serve the community as it has for forty years.
We, representatives of the Friends of Beyond Baroque, call upon all people who care about Beyond Baroque to contact Councilman Bill Rosendahl at 213.473.7011 or Councilman.Rosendahl@lacity.org to urge him to uphold the Council Resolution awarding Beyond Baroque’s lease to all its historic space and protect this precious Venice institution intact. Please cc: FriendsByndBaroq@aol.com on your e-mails to Councilman Rosendahl.
The Friends of Beyond Baroque
Jim Smith 310.399.8685
Grace Godlin 310.827.1326
Emily Winters (Venice Arts Council) 310.306.7372
July 20, 2008
* * * *
Lee Cohn, Editor
Santa Monica Mirror
Re: Letters to Editor
Since the Ocean Park Association inquires as to why the architecture in Santa Monica is of such poor quality (Santa Monica Mirror, July 17-23), with particular reference to the Boulangerie project on Main Street, he need look no further than to the Architectural Review Board, whose chairman, Mr. Folonis, had a principle role in shaping the facade. Judging from the Santa Monica streetscape, the ARB often acts beyond its powers or its competence. It is questionable that the members possess a special design competence. Many public servants, particularly those who are unelected, are unaware of public law principles and may use the perceived power of the public body to act in any way they choose.
The ARB, in particular, is notorious for its maladministration, illegality, unfairness, and irrationality. As a basic starting point, the ARB can only do what it has the power to do. Yet, their actions are often arbitrary and whimsical or rigid when they should be exercising discretion. Or they will unlawfully delegate authority to unqualified and non-professional staff that invariably results in a design process that is frustrating or an end product that is amateurish. Or the Board will be unfair for some political reason and deny the applicant a fair hearing. Because the Board acts like a star chamber the applicant may not be informed of the issues against him, or given the opportunity to represent his own case properly, thusly frustrating legitimate expectations. We have seen experienced architects sent back to the incompetent staff for advice time and time again where the outcome becomes worse for each return visit to the ARB.
Although the ARB is governed by the Municipal Code Sec. 9.04.08.18.065 they seem oblivious to legal constraints; yet, as an administrative remedy, appeal to the Planning Commission is itself a breech of state law because such a review body must contain an architect. In any event, where opinion rather than technology governs, Planning Commission members are inappropriately chosen to hear such challenges. Since the Board members are not required to demonstrate any particular ability or sensitivity to design issues why should the public expect anything but buildings “that disrupt the fabric” of the city?, to quote Mr. Winterer, President of the Ocean Park Association.
W. Firschein, Architect