Downtown Santa Monica underwent a magical transformation, with the Pier, beaches, and Palisades Park glowing with the sights and sounds of original contemporary art from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. last Saturday.
About a hundred thousand people from near and far flocked to the first Glow event in the United States which was inspired by Paris’ Nuit Blanche. Yann Perreau, Deputy Cultural Attaché from the French Consul General’s office stated at the event’s opening ceremony that Santa Monica’s presentation of Glow “defines the very essence of the French/American relationship.” He then noted that Nuit Blanche in English means “white night or all nighter.” Perreau closed his remarks by stating, ‘I’m not surprised … that you are the first city in the United States to do this event. You always have been a place of innovation.”
Glow’s festivities were created by over a hundred artists from four different countries at 24 different public spaces in Santa Monica.
After the opening ceremony, hundreds marched over the Pier Bridge to the beat of drums to hear “Mandala Fanfare” performed by an ensemble of musicians, the Ferris Wheel Orchestra, while riding Pacific Park’s new Ferris wheel. The Pier was also the site of Infranatural’s “The Amazing Mental Scope” which broadcast the excitement and curiosity of Glow’s attendees by measuring an individual’s brain activity and displaying it on a canvas of lights. On the south side of the Pier a poetry boat with three poets, Joshua Beckman, Anthony McCann, and Noelle Kocot-Tomblin, was anchored so that people on the beach could request and hear personal poetry readings over their mobile phones.
Muscle Beach hosted Frank Rozasy’s “Illumination Migration” which consisted of 950 glow sticks in four colors, yellow, red, green, and blue, set in rows of 20, creating a 60×120-foot form on the beach. This form was continuously moved to copy the movement of the tide and Santa Monica’s grunion coming ashore to spawn and then returning to sea. Also on Muscle Beach was a large artificial bonfire/light sculpture where the public could hear traditional sea shanties and original maritime-themed songs while relaxing in beach blankets.
One didn’t have to walk far on Palisades Park before becoming overwhelmed by the many exhibits set up there, such as Anne Deleporte’s “Loose Cannon On Deck” which consisted of LCD screens displaying special programs set within the barrels of the park’s two historic canons. The Park’s Senior Center became the site of Shiva Mandell’s “reDISCOVER,” where the public was invited to participate in the art-making process by manipulating materials on flatbed screens of opaque projectors. The created images were then projected on the west and north windows of the Senior Center. Not far away were Caroline Maxwell and Tal Yizrael’s “The Department of Nocturnal Affairs,” where the public could report wildlife sightings in the Glow zone which were then recorded on forms and posted on a map. Lastly, the park was the site of “Glass House,” designed by Kamau Patton and Suzy Poling. The lighted green glass house featured a specially created musical soundtrack.
The beach north of the Pier was also the site of several exhibits including the Peter Tolkin Projects. “Dunnage Ball,” which consisted of 30 dunnage bags made into a 22-foot diameter illuminated structure that the public could sit in. The north beach was also the site of Nova Jiang and Michael Kontopoulous’s Moon Theater that used computers to generate responses on a full moon screen from visitors’ input.
There were also exhibits at Santa Monica Place, including Jeff Cain’s “Skyglow,” which projected art footage of the Los Angeles landscape on the ceiling of the interior of the old Robinson’s-May Department Store.
Santa Monica resident Maria Rodriquez summed up the response of many of those who attended Glow when she told the Mirror “This is one of the reasons I live in Santa Monica. What other town would put something like this on.”
The City’s Cultural Affairs Director Jessica Cusick, who played a major role in organizing Glow told the Mirror Glow was two years in the making and would be done in Santa Monica again in 2010. Glow was presented in partnership with the City of Santa Monica’s Bayside District Corporation, Pier Restoration Corporation, the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau, and with the help of numerous corporate sponsors.