At the Glow fes­ti­val, art can be fun too

Los Angeles Times - - Calendar - Scar­let Cheng cal­en­

The sec­ond edi­tion of Santa Mon­ica’s noc­tur­nal art fes­ti­val, called Glow 2010 this year, will be up and run­ning be­gin­ning Satur­day evening, and if it’s any­thing like the inaugural ver­sion, ex­pect a lit­tle com­pany as you stroll the water­front ar­ray of in­stal­la­tions and per­for­mance art.

Last time, the Glow fes­ti­val drew 200,000 vis­i­tors. Jes­sica Cu­sick, cul­tural af­fairs man­ager for the city, said “We’re es­ti­mat­ing maybe half of that this year, about 100,000.”

With the poor econ­omy lin­ger­ing, there are fewer projects in this year’s Glow — 20, down from 27. Some par­tic­i­pants were in­vited, and oth­ers were cho­sen by a jury in an open com­pe­ti­tion.

“I think the first rule was to find artists who have orig­i­nal vi­sion and some­thing that is com­pelling to say,” says Marc Pally, artis­tic di­rec­tor of Glow. “We’re look­ing for art­work that has an en­gag­ing as­pect, pro­motes a so­cial en­vi­ron­ment as op­posed to some­thing quiet and con­tem­pla­tive, some­thing that helps to en­er­gize our com­mon spa­ces and to re­think how art plays a role in our so­cial be­hav­ior.”


Think­ing, how­ever, may be op­tional, as many of the projects are geared to­ward fun and en­ter­tain­ment, of­fer­ing mu­sic and sound and invit­ing au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion. That in­cludes the open­ing pro­gram, “Howl­ing at the Sun,” a whim­si­cal reen­act­ment of a Tongva Gabrielino myth co-pro­duced by LA Com­mons and the 18th Street Art Cen­ter.

The story “pits the Sun against Sky Coy­ote in a bat­tle to de­ter­mine the fate of the Earth,” says Karen Mack, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of LA Com­mons. “When we were dis­cussing ideas, it re­ally res­onated with all of us — an­cient im­pli­ca­tions and mod­ern im­pli­ca­tions, the chal­lenges we face on this planet with global warm­ing and ev­ery­thing.”

In their ver­sion, Na­jite Agin­dotan will rep­re­sent Sun and An­gel-Luís Figueroa will rep­re­sent Coy­ote. Both per­cus­sion­ists are steeped in mu­si­cal tra­di­tions that main­tain a friendly ri­valry — African and Afro-Cuban mu­sic, re­spec­tively. They will lead teams in pro­ces­sions that will meet at Ocean and Colorado av­enues at 7 p.m., launch­ing the evening’s fes­tiv­i­ties. After­ward, the two groups will head down to the beach, where they will in­vite vis­i­tors to join in mask-mak­ing, sing­ing and drum­ming.

The ac­tion cul­mi­nates at mid­night with a “mu­si­cal bat­tle,” and sto­ry­teller Michael McCarty judg­ing the win­ner.

On a more in­ti­mate scale will be Anne Her­lihy’s “La Bella Luna,” which blends nostal­gia with karaoke. A sign with the words “Luna Park” lighted mar­quee-style will be next to a tent she has sewn to­gether from fabrics of many col­ors in the form of a 12-foot-tall oc­tagon.

In­di­vid­u­als will en­ter and se­lect from a playlist of songs that have the word “moon” in the ti­tle, then sing into a mi­cro­phone. The singer’s voice will be broad­cast out­side via two speak­ers, while his or her face will be pro­jected onto a sphere float­ing over the tent. “They’ll be the moon sing­ing to the crowd,” says Her­lihy. “They’ll be like the man in the moon.”

Three projects or­ga­nized by Ma­chine Project em­ploy mu­sic — “Wan­der­ing Mu­si­cians: Kill­sonic,” sea chanties, tra­di­tional and pirate songs in “Nau­ti­cal Mu­sic En­camp­ment” and mu­sic by the Santa Mon­ica Pier carousel in “Carousel Con­certs.”

The fees awarded for the projects ranged from $2,500 to $70,000, says Pally, with the top fee go­ing to Rafael Lozano-Hem­mer, a Cana­dian-Mex­i­can artist based in Mon­treal. His pub­lic in­stal­la­tions have been shown around the world, and he rep­re­sented Mex­ico at the 2007 Venice Bi­en­nale. For Glow, his in­stal­la­tion piece “Sand­box” makes am­ple use of elec­tronic technology to ex­plore and am­plify one of life’s en­dur­ing plea­sures, play­ing in the sand, while sug­gest­ing one of life’s creepy mod­ern re­al­i­ties, pub­lic sur­veil­lance.

Some big hands

Minia­tur­ized video im­ages of peo­ple at the fes­ti­val will be pro­jected into two small sand­boxes — each 3 by 3 feet. Mean­while, vis­i­tors can place their hand in those boxes and play. Those hands, in turn, will be pro­jected in gar­gan­tuan pro­por­tions on a much big­ger “sand­box” else­where on the beach.

“Beaches in Cal­i­for­nia fea­ture peo­ple walk­ing around with metal de­tec­tors, kids mak­ing sand cas­tles, [im­mi­grants] hop­ing the mi­gra will not catch them and peo­ple ex­pand­ing their bod­ies,” writes Lozano-Hemme via e-mail. “ I wanted to make a piece with these themes that was play­ful and omi­nous at the same time.”

There will also be of­fer­ings to the taste buds. There will be two ar­eas with food trucks, one north and one south of the pier. And, in fact, one art project is a food truck: Pentti Monkko­nen’s “Bar­be­cue Train,” a replica of a clas­sic lo­co­mo­tive en­gine, from which Border Grill will be grilling and sell­ing food.

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