COLUMN: Everyone is searching for hopeful economic news and I have some for you. Last night, I attended an unveiling of corporate-sponsored sculpture in staid Woodland Hills, California. Actually, it was a combined art show, modern dance piece, electronic music performance, and happening.

Anyone remember happenings? For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a happening is an artistic performance or event of a multi-disciplinary nature, often somewhat freeform and usually involving the audience in some manner. That is what I saw take place in the shimmering dusk beside several thoroughly antiseptic-looking office buildings in what is officially known as the LNR Warner Center campus.

Yes, there we were, dwarfed by the Intuit Innovative Merchant Solutions building and next to the well-kept lawn holding some thoroughly mundane Commercial Property For Lease signage. The participants included sculptor Stephen Glassman, choreographers Sarah Elgart and Holly Rothchild, several remarkably limber modern dancers, two pop culture media maestros from Green Galactic, and a whole bunch of very nice people who seemed unaware of the fiscal ramifications of this venture.

That’s not a put-down. It didn’t occur to me, either, until I was back in the studio looking at the video I shot at the event. “Holy dollar signs,” I said to myself, “there is money being spent on the arts!” Glassman’s lovely three-part environmental sculpture is called “White Tail Plaza,” and was co-commissioned with funding both public (Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs) and private (LNR Property Corporation).

Hold on a moment, I hear some of you asking “Is this money well-spent?” That’s relative. If you look at truly needy people in the world, it might occur to you that they could have been helped for a while with the money that went into the creation of “White Tail Plaza.” But if you concede that there is a need for office buildings in our culture, then it is uplifting to find corporations willing to devote some concern for the aesthetics of their surroundings.

[youtube: 400 326]

Glassman’s creation transforms a prosaic, dull, lifeless patch of concrete, asphalt, iron and glass into an exquisite place for your eyes to explore, your mind to take flight, and your soul to be uplifted. Too much hyperbole, you think? Then I suggest you visit the three sculptural installations. Walk around them. Run your hands over them. Sit on their base of smooth boulders. Climb on them (security guards permitting). In my view, that entire area of town is now more attractive than at any time since the land was innocent because no one had yet touched it and bulldozers were still a thing of the noisy future.

As for the dance and music part of the event, let me put it this way: dozens and dozens of people were transfixed and mostly on their feet for a forty-five minute performance that required them to traipse across a parking lot to follow the action. Now that is art that is compelling.

For more information:
Stephen Glassman:
LNR Property Corp.:
Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs:
Sarah Elgart:
Holly Rothchild:
Green Galactic: .