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Beverly Hills Makes BOLD Art Moves

If the Beverly Hills Arts and Culture Commission gets its wish, the City of Beverly Hills could become a veritable art oasis. In tandem with Frieze Los Angeles returning for a third year next February, on June 9 the Commission advocated that the City take steps to create its own synergistic art fair. 

Billed as “BOLD Beverly Hills Frieze 2021,” the proposed public art installation and storefront art activation project aims to engage institutions, galleries and local artists to convert vacant store fronts into curated artist spaces. Members of the Arts and Culture Commission predicted that the City would be able to capitalize on the prestigious Frieze Los Angeles art fair to energize Beverly Hills. 

“I think Los Angeles is probably the most exciting art scene happening,” said Director of Community Services Jenny Rogers, who underscored that the Beverly Hills art scene was just getting ready to emerge from its proverbial cocoon. “This moment in time is very important for our City.” 

To coincide with Los Angeles Frieze 2021, the commission advocated that the City spend $100,000 to purchase a series of three large-scale nine-foot sculptures that challenge notions of racial perception created by artist Genevieve Gaignard. Presented by Art Production Fund and United Talent Agency (UTA), the City would only be paying a portion of the total $450,000 cost to acquire the three monumental public sculptures, which would be installed next February pending approval by City Council. 

“What you’re getting to witness is something I think for generations to come will be celebrated as something that will be considered a monumental work,” predicted Arthur Lewis, Creative Director of UTA Artist Space. 

As the daughter of a black father and white mother, Gaignard, who earned her MFA at Yale, has often used her art to explore her own identity while challenging viewers to navigate their own roadblocks with intersectional identity. For this particular project, Gaignard plans to appropriate the heads of “mammy” figurines, inherently a disrespectful image of how blackness was portrayed in America, and place them on the bodies of dolls in dresses that have been repainted to become whimsical, freed from the stereotype. 

Gaignard told the commission that the reimagined figurines, made monumental, will be a tool “to talk about race and celebrate differences.” 

“All of my art [is] a tool to have the harder conversations in a way that welcomes you in a safe space,” she said. “The impact that I feel they would have in Beverly Hills is really outstanding.” 

The works, which will be designed to withstand rust and water damage, would be fabricated at Artscape Sculpture Studio in Sun Valley in laminated fiberglass over an internal stainless steel armature. 

“It’s so prestigious to have this in our City. It’s appropriate to have it in our City,” said Arts and Culture Commission Chair Stephanie Vahn. 

Envisioned to appear as if the sculptures are dancing together in a garden, their layout will ultimately be site-specific based on the location selected. The commission advocated installing the sculptures in a highly visible location, such as Beverly Gardens Park. 

Following the commission’s direction, City Council liaisons (Councilmembers John Mirisch and Lili Bosse) will meet to consider furthering both the public sculpture project as well as moving forward to create an art fair to coincide with Frieze 2021 in anticipation of bringing it to the full City Council for approval. 

 

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