This past Saturday, thousands of people from all over Southern California flocked to the sandy beaches of Santa Monica to get their creativity and adventure on at one of the largest night time art events in the world. The event, aptly titled Glow, turned the sandy beach near the Santa Monica pier into an interactive art gallery, featuring dozens of illuminated and fluorescent art installations that engaged and immersed the viewers. The point of the art installations are to play with our perceptions of “normal” when it comes to empty space and temporal placement of art. Some other cities famous for their ‘White Light’ (or, Nuit Blanche (translation: white night)) events are Montreal, Rome, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv and Paris – just to name a few; it’s a fairly Avant Garde movement and I think it’s exciting that we get to be part of it!
The first time the event graced the pier was back in 2008, bringing in over 50 unique art exhibits and drawing close to 200,000 people to Santa Monica for some late night art explorations. My first Glow experience was back in 2010 and there were close to 150,000 people jamming the streets packed in what felt like the world’s quietest rave. Now in its third installation, Glow drew between 100,000 and 150,000 people to the shores but considering my friends and I didn’t arrive until close to midnight – it definitely didn’t feel that crowded! A definite perk of Glow is that Downtown Santa Monica is literally buzzing with music, drink and food specials to treat the thousands of starving art enthusiasts – so if you go with a full stomach and a roadie, you can avoid most of that commotion and stick to the exhibits.
Now, some of the art was amazing – but on a very real note, most didn’t hold my already impaired attention span for more than a few minutes. Maybe it’s the fact I’ve been to way too many electronic events and have my standards set pretty high for what I consider ‘epic’ fluorescent art – maybe it’s the fact I was literally just inside the Lili Lakich Gallery of Neon art, but let’s face facts here: it was pretty underwhelming. Well, thank goodness that the Santa Monica Pier was there (no, seriously! Saved us from utter boredom…). With restaurants a plenty, and ‘Pacific Park’ – LA’s own miniature amusement park – stationed firmly on top, pier is a tourist mecca in its own right. We gallivanted and enjoyed the sights and scenes that were already there and then had a minor epiphany that the whole point of Glow was simply to generate revenue for the pier. And on a side note, the one thing I didn’t appreciate about Glow was that it was essentially understaffed with little to no security, especially at the installations close to the waters edge. All in all, I had a great night with my friends but next time, I’d rather just go to the pier and skip ‘Glow’ all together.