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City wants local art in storefronts

To make Glendale more vibrant, program seeks items for exhibits. Performance artists are encouraged to apply too.

September 15, 2010|By Melanie Hicken, melanie.hicken@latimes.com

CITY HALL — A program set up to fill vacant downtown storefronts with art exhibits is now seeking local artists to submit their applications, officials said this week.

The so-called Glendale Area Temporary Exhibitions program, or GATE, is seeking professional artists and groups working in all media, officials said.

Beverly Hills-based firm Praccis is overseeing the project's implementation — including negotiations with property owners, selecting and working with artists and curating the exhibits — under an $80,000 one-year contract approved by the City Council in April.

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"It's going to be a variety," said Eric Qvale, a project manager with Praccis. "We may like to have some spaces that look like a gallery. We may want some things that are really eye catching from pedestrian and from drivers from passing by."

Performance artists are also invited to apply, he added, as project officials are hoping to develop events and programming to bring attention to the art exhibits.

Negotiations remain ongoing with a number of property owners in the project area, which focuses on Brand Boulevard and Maryland Avenue between Lexington Drive and the Americana at Brand, Qvale said.

Proposed by Councilwoman Laura Friedman, who also serves as chairwoman of the Redevelopment Agency, she noted the success of similar programs in other cities. GATE should revitalize the growing number of storefront vacancies during the protracted recession while also boosting the city's arts prestige, officials say.

"It creates a sense of vibrancy in the community," said Elissa Glickman, a member of the executive board of the Downtown Glendale Merchants Assn.

Glickman — who also serves as general manager of Glendale Arts, the nonprofit that runs the Alex Theatre — said she was glad to see Praccis officials targeting the local arts community.

"I think one of the things we were most pleased with is this particular vendor is really focused on trying to give local artists some sort of profile and an opportunity to show their work," she said. "It's our hope as many local artists as possible take part."

Councilman John Drayman said he is hopeful the temporary displays will help drum up support for an infusion of permanent arts spaces in the downtown area.

"When we saw the turnout for Art from the Ashes, I think it cemented in everyone's minds, even the critics, that art has a place in the downtown area," he said. "It makes it more vibrant. It is also a tremendous economic development tool for the area."

For more information and application materials, visit http://www.gateprojects.org.

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