Storefront art exhibit

A couple walks by artwork by Srboohie Abajian in the storefront at 108. W. Broadway on Thursday, May 24, 2012. The artwork is part of the Glendale Area Temporary Exhibitions that was paid for by redevelopment funds. (Roger Wilson / Staff Photographer / February 25, 2014)

The Glendale Arts & Culture Commission recently gave a thumbs-up for two separate $60,000 contracts with consultants to continue the city’s art-in-vacant-storefront program and a new one focused on temporary public art exhibits on various sites.

The commission unanimously recommended last Thursday that John David O’Brien and Arts From the Ashes organize the two programs, respectively. Their recommendations, though, must still go before the City Council for final consideration.

The art-in-vacant storefront program, originally called GATE, began roughly three years ago to increase pedestrian interest on streets lined with businesses shuttered by the protracted recession. While Beverly Hills-based Praccis had organized the program in the past, the arts commission decided to go with a new consultant this time around.

O’Brien, who has experience curating installations and coordinating public art programs, said he plans to be inclusive of local artists as well as introduce the city to new contemporary works.

Commissioner Arlette DerHovanessian said she supported O’Brien’s vision and added that she wants community artists to be involved.

“I want them to feel really at home and to be proud to be part of Glendale and to work with you,” she said.

While the first program focuses on arts in vacant storefronts, the latter will bring public art to a variety of public spaces in Glendale.

Joy Feuer, founder of the nonprofit Arts from the Ashes, said her team is considering several locations — from city gateways bordering Atwater and the Ventura (134) Freeway to the downtown core — for the art exhibitions.

The program’s theme, “You are Here” aims to incorporate both the symbolism of being on a map as well as evoke a sense of personal experience with the art, she said.

“I live here and I want people to want to come to Glendale to have an experience,” Feuer said, adding later, “We want to kind of get a little crazy, if we’re allowed to. We want to surprise people.”

The temporary arts programs are part of the commission’s multiyear plan, which also includes projects that could bring permanent public art to the city, such as murals on downtown utility boxes.

The money for the projects comes from roughly $1.4 million the city has collected in art fees from apartment developers. Glendale is currently undergoing its largest building boom in decades.

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