True, Santa Monica has a robust gallery scene. But there’s no need to head inside to be inspired by artists’ works. Visitors and locals alike are treated to more than 150 notable sculptures, murals and other creative endeavors found all around town. By Mindy Farabee
This giant riff on a Newton’s Cradle—yep, those desktop knickknacks favored by corporate execs and physics teachers—hangs from the exterior wall of a parking garage adjacent to the Santa Monica Place Mall. Be sure to visit midday, when the bustle of passerby creates a stream of reflections on the highly-polished steel orbs.
How’s this for musical chairs—these 18-foot-tall, scalable works are outfitted with sets of aluminum pipes meant to harness the ocean breeze into tunes. On windy days strong gusts create musical interludes audible to 500 feet. Wind or not, they provide a perfect year-round perch to enjoy the sunset.
Located at the precise spot where Wilshire Boulevard (at Franklin Avenue) rises to offer westbound drivers a glimpse of the Pacific, this sculpture was one of the earliest pieces of public art commissioned by the city. Fully restored two years ago with energy-efficient LED lights, the wave is especially striking in the early evening hours when its blue silhouette becomes visible against a darkening sky.
Along Lincoln Boulevard, an all-volunteer troupe of artists have been sharing artistic vision throughout the neighborhood with a quirky series of paintings, including the visage of Abraham Lincoln, appearing on local businesses. At 631 Wilshire Boulevard, rising local street artist “Bumblebee Loves You” recently unveiled Beach Day, a portrait of a bigger-than-life boy gazing longingly toward the sand.
Explore a complete list of public artworks viewable throughout the city at www.smgov.net/portals/culture/publicArtCollection.aspx or learn more about Santa Monica’s Arts & Culture scene.