Public Art and Publishers on Study Session Agenda

At its May 4 Study Session, the Beverly Hills City Council unanimously approved plans for the city’s next big pandemic-era art installation. As a part of the Embrace & Celebrate Culture Initiative, the city will install a pop-up art exhibit titled “Visions of the Future” at 445 North Canon Drive for one month. Then, the Council also addressed the annual Newspaper/Advertising Bid, the city’s contracts with local publications for notices and advertisements.

“Our streets really are getting increasingly activated. Walk the streets: you can feel the energy, and this will be compounding the energy,” Mayor Robert Wunderlich said.

The exhibit will be installed inside the storefront window space in the heart of the Business Triangle, right across from Edelweiss Chocolates and La Scala. The city has tapped artists James Goldcrown and Markus Klinko, whose work will remain up for one month. Staff estimated that the exhibition will be installed within the next 30 days.

Goldcrown, a London-born and Los Angeles-based multimedia artist, is well known for his idiosyncratic “Bleeding Hearts/Lovewall” murals, one of which adorns Alfred’s Coffee Beverly Hills on the Santa Monica Boulevard side. According to Next-Gen Art Chair Kipton Cronkite, the city has spoken with Goldcrown about creating a “custom neon work that speaks to the mission of this project.”

Klinko is a prolific fashion and celebrity photographer who has shot a panoply of modern luminaries and stars, including David Bowie, Billie Eilish, Kanye West, Britney Spears, and Beyoncé. Though Klinko began his life as a world-renowned harpist, a hand injury prompted his transition to photography.

The project came together as a result of a collaboration between the Next Beverly Hills Committee and the Arts and Culture and Human Relations Commissions. The Next Beverly Hills Committee serves to promote civic engagement in Beverly Hills, especially among those 25 to 45-years-old. One strategy to realize its objective: art.

“This is quite the ensemble here,” said Councilmember Julian Gold about the collaboration. “It really does reflect the way the community comes together to do something special.”

The project builds on the work of the Embrace & Celebrate Culture Initiative, a joint venture between the Arts and Culture and Human Relations Commissions. The initiative seeks to “celebrate diversity, create a greater culture of inclusion, equity, and belonging in the city of Beverly Hills,” said Human Relations Commissioner Annette Saleh.

“It features the arts, lectures and community engagement as a way to manifest a community of kindness, and to stand in opposition to recent acts of hatred and violence, racial intolerance, injustice, and systemic racism,” she said.

The program was also launched in response to the restricted access to artistic spaces necessitated by the pandemic. In the first collaboration between Next Beverly Hills and Embrace & Celebrate Culture, the groups launched “Visions in Light: Windows on The Wallis.” The installation presented work by nearly 40 established and emerging artists of diverse cultures projected onto the windows of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. “Visions of the Future” builds on “Visions in Light” by also offering a pandemic-friendly way to appreciate art.

“This is a wonderful venue to commemorate diverse humanity in Beverly Hills,” said Human Relations Commissioner Karen Popovich Levyn at the time.

The city had planned to execute a similar project in December, a collaboration with United Talent Agency (UTA), but the winter surge in COVID-19 cases made it unsafe and infeasible. The exhibition similarly would have placed art in empty storefronts in the city.

The Council expressed an eagerness to expand the program to other empty storefronts in anticipation of the open summer months. According to Saleh, the city has been in touch with several property owners who are “willing and able and ready” to use their spaces for public art. “It’s just a matter of formalizing the agreement and scheduling it and also picking out the artists,” she said.

“Your timing is perfect, it’s so great that this is going to be kicking off in the summer months, when the weather is glorious and we have our OpenBH program where people are out dining and enjoying it,” said Vice Mayor Lili Bosse.

The Council also reviewed its annual Newspaper/Advertising Bid directed to the three publications adjudicated in the city, the Beverly Hills Courier, the Beverly Weekly, and the Beverly Press. Each year, the city grants contracts with adjudicated papers to place legal notices and display advertisements, funneling a crucial source of revenue to the papers. At issue were the questions of how to allocate the advertising funds and whether to require the Beverly Press to submit to an independent audit of its circulation. 

Mayor Robert Wunderlich proposed that that matter be brought before an ad hoc committee to iron out the details before bringing it back to the Council. 

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