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City of Santa Monica Highlights Art Collection

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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

September 24, 2015 -- The City of Santa Monica is showcasing highlights from its extensive art collection in an exhibit that opens Friday at the Annenberg Community Beach House.

City-owned art pieces are usually spread throughout Santa Monica’s municipal buildings and public spaces, said Malina Moore, the city’s cultural affairs supervisor.

The exhibit of 15 pieces gives the public a chance to view a sample of some the City’s overall collection of more than 100 pieces by regional artists ranging from paintings and murals to interactive installations.

On view through January 12, 2016, “Art Bank: Selections from the city of Santa Monica’s Art Collection” presents an eclectic array of works, includes pieces by such well-known artists as Los Angeles-based Charles Gaines, Moore said.

Additional works include those by John Valadez, a realist painter and muralist, and LA painter Roberto Chavez, Moore said.

A reception for the new collection will be held in conjunction with the Beach=Culture Open House on Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Beach House.

The event kicks off with a dress rehearsal of Choreographer-in-Residence Rebecca Bruno’s new dance work Elemental Forms. Included will be vintage jazz from Nick Ariondo & Friends and a “mini-Dance Hall” starting from 6:30 to 8 p.m. with James & Cynthia.

Also on display will be “The California Incline – early 20th century views from the collection of Margaret Bach,” which offers a special look back at the development of the California Incline which is current being replaced.

Moore said the works on exhibit demonstrate Santa Monica’s dedication to the arts community, and its role in helping both emerging and established artists.

“Santa Monica has always been on the cutting edge of support for the arts,” she said.

The City of Santa Monica’s Art Bank program was established by the Santa Monica Arts Commission in 1984 in order to bring art to Santa Monica’s municipal spaces, while supporting local artists.

The commission chooses works through an appointed jury of professionals composed of arts administrators, artists and art organizations who scour local galleries and other venues looking for works to expand the collection, officials said.

Funding comes from “Percent for Art,” a program created in 1986 that dedicates one percent of the budget of all eligible capital improvement projects in the city for the art, according to City officials.

In a way, the City’s art collection dates back to 1950, when William and Margaret McManus donated a number of 18th and 19th-century oil paintings and landscapes to the Santa Monica Library.

Moore said they had hoped the donations would mark the beginning of a municipal art gallery.

The City’s public arts projects can be seen at many municipal buildings and at cultural centers such as Bergamot Station, the California Heritage Museum and the Miles Playhouse.

Moore said the City has tried to serve as an “incubator” for artists, and the division’s website notes that there are some 60 art galleries and other arts venues in the city.

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