‘Glow Santa Monica’ lights up
the night and the imagination
The most technologically advanced exhibit, Janet Echelman’s “The space between” is seen from the inside with the famous Santa Monica Pier Ferris wheel as the backdrop. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc.
THOUSANDS OF VIVIDLY GLOWING, singing, dancing, bicycling and twirling works of “art” thronged to the beach and surrounding areas near the Santa Monica, Calif., Pier on Saturday for an all-night art extravaganza that was a feast for the senses and a memorable experience.
Anchored by a half a dozen major installations glowing against the balmy summer night sky, “Glow” is billed as an “all night cultural experience that re-imagines Santa Monica Beach as a playground for original, participatory works of art.”
It definitely fulfills is mission. About 100,000 attended, organizers estimated.
Milling around the 15 creative and inspiring “official” installations, thousands became part of the show exhibiting their own personal interpretations of the theme.
CITIZEN ART MERGED with professional in a mosaic hard to reproduce in words and pictures. It was an intense, vibrant experience filled with a plethora of creative, unforgettable images.
“Swarm (the gelatinous bloom)” by artists’ collective Aphidoidea was like a giant interactive jellyfish suspended above the sand. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc.
Sponsored by the City of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Arts Foundation, “Glow” is presented every three years.
“[It] features an extraordinary array of original, site specific installations by local and international artists,” says the program. “Ranging from the haunting traditional music of the Javanese Gamelan to the most technologically advanced interactive artworks, “Glow” celebrates the exceptional ability of artists to activate and shape the public space.”
It included free valet parking for bicycles! Parking for autos was $20 per space.
Seven performance art displays, including dancing, a puppet show and immersive video were presented from dusk to midnight.
The huge video projection “Circumsolar Migration 1” by Rebeca Mendez is seen from behind the screen. The view on the other side was different. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc.
Among the most impressive presentations was Rebecca Mendez Circumsolar Migration 1, 2013, a 30- to 40-foot tall, circular, translucent video projection at water’s edge.
The audience gathered mostly in front of the screen, watching the larger-than-life images of the Earth and a representative sample of its human inhabitants but focusing on an arctic tern – a small sea bird that has the longest migration of all living beings on earth.
But the more adventurous, who wondered closer to the water, as did my companion Steve Mullen and I, would notice that one could also watch the show, from a different perspective, from behind the screen: it was translucent.
Participants Nina Vargas, left, and finance Mark Bailey of San Dimas, Calif., get ready for their personal interpretation of the theme. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc.
Nearby we met Nina Vargas and her financé Mark Bailey, both from San Dimas, Calif, about 40 miles east, who were setting up their own “Glow” exhibit.
“It is our way to participate in the creation of Glow,” said Vargas, who was getting ready to become part of the show dressed in all manner of glowing items.
“It is totally inspiring,” said Bailey, adorned in a vivid, green glowing facemask.
The most technologically advanced and spectacular of all the exhibits was Janet Echelman’s “The Space Between Us.”
The program description barely captures the experience. “Echelman’s multi-sensory immersive experience invites visitors to recline in sculptured sand forms (which I did) as a diaphanous, 200-foot aerial sculpture billows above.”
It is illuminated from five different high-powered projectors below; from inside, the lighted strands of mesh strung between two unseen towers, seem to float, magically, in the night sky. The brightly decorated Ferris wheel rotating on the Pier makes an awe-inspiring backdrop to the scene.
NOT INCLUDED ON THE program but also part of the experience, were dozens – or hundreds – of ways visitors could participate.
We encountered Ben Manibag playing a great game.
Ben Manibag played a game with anyone who came along. The prize was a flashlight/pen combination. I have one. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc.
After watching a couple of others, Manibag had me pull a scrolled up question from a box full of them.
He opened the scroll and asked me: “What is the name of a Latin American dance between the mamba and the rhumba?”
“The samba?” I queried.
“No. Let me give you a clue. It is a three-letter word repeated twice,” he said, grinning.
“Cha-cha!” I responded, grinning, as he handed me the prize: a flashlight-pen combination.
Moments later, the next person in line picked the question: “What is the name of the composer of Fur Elise?”
When the woman was stumped, he added the clue: “There is a movie of the same name all about a dog.”
“Beethoven,” she giggled as she, too, got her flashlight prize.
It was a night of inspiration, expanding the imagination to realms unfathomable, immersive, spectacular… pick your own superlative.
As an expression of one of the most creative communities on the planet, “Glow” should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Dancers perform in “GLOWbal” in front of a large screen coated with phosphorescent paint, by artists Karen Atkinson. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc.
FEEDBACK: Contact site admin directly