If you’ve recently had the opportunity to take a stroll along the El Segundo strand, you might have seen a pink polar bear sitting on top of a shipping container, and a Greek-inspired siren with a speaker adjacent to it. The installation is about sustainability and the environment and how he must learn to co-exist in a world where technological innovations determine our living standards. Coincidentally, it lies directly across from the Hyperion Treatment Plant in its apocalyptic splendor, and as you view it from the beach facing east, the refinery and planes soaring above give it a majestic and paradoxical feel of the age of coldness. The piece was created by German artist, Michael Sistig, who is currently an artist-in-residency at the recently opened El Segundo Museum of Art. The installation is called Anti-Arche and is meant to open dialogue about global warming, sustainability, and provoke questions of interpretation.
The new space is spearheaded by Manhattan Beach couple, Brian and Eva Sweeney, which serves more like an art laboratory rather than a typical museum by providing the residency program and four exhibits each year that will include paintings, sculptures, video, and digital works, that will be developed around a theme where viewers can make their own personal connections. Originally, the space was going to be used to house the couple’s private collection that includes Monet, Warhol, and Pissarro, but it turned into an art experiment itself with the modern building being designed by Culver City architect, John Milander, and co-founder, Eva Sweeney. The latter, who is originally from Germany and also co-founder of architecture firm Bau10, studied at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, while Brian Sweeney is a real estate developer known for buying large parcels of coastal land and selling it to parties that protect it from big development.
The Sweeneys are very active in the art world and participate on three Getty councils including: paintings and conservation, drawings, and on the Getty Research Institute, and they have loaned works to other big museums throughout the Los Angeles County. They also partnered with Otis College in Westchester and have allowed the university to select one artist for the residency program at least once a year. Part of their goal is to increase property values around downtown El Segundo and bring more visitors to the neighborhood. So while you’re there, have a budget breakfast at Wendy’s Place Café, drink a local beer at the El Segundo Brewing Company, or have lunch at two of my favorite places, El Tarasco or the Havana Sandwich Company, and although I hate to write a negative review, the Indian Summer Restaurant is the worst Indian food I’ve ever had.