Community Celebrates 'Dear Culver City' Art Installation at City Hall

Published on May 22, 2024

Photo of Katy Krantz Speaking to the crowd on the left and a photo of the project on the right

The artwork strung at the entrance of Culver City City Hall will remain in place through July for the community to visit and enjoy. In April, a crowd of over 100 people gathered for a reception to celebrate Dear Culver City…, a multidisciplinary project that includes the ceramic contributions of over 1,000 Culver City community members. The project was spearheaded, installed, and coordinated by Katy Krantz, Artist Laureate for the City of Culver City.

“When I started thinking of the project, I wanted to do something big, because the artist laureate title is a big one,” Krantz told the crowd. “Fortunately my values overlap with the mission set out for the laureate which is to advocate for the arts across disciplines, promote artistic equity, cultural diversity, and access.” 

For the project, Krantz led over 30 ceramics workshops across the city, engaging with residents and stakeholders of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. The workshops were comprised of two activities: a word brainstorm and a ceramics project. Krantz asked workshop participants to think of words that came to mind when considering Culver City’s past, present, and future. These words were collected on large sheets of paper. Participants then chose one word to stamp in wet clay, which Krantz then fired and glazed. All words written on paper were alphabetized and compiled into documents, which were then given to seven local poets who created poems inspired by the collected words.

“The collected words offer a powerful snapshot of where we are as a community, where we’ve been, and where we might be going. While the words reflect quite a bit of community pride, there is still plenty of room to look critically and clearly,” Krantz said. 

Workshop participants also learned basic ceramics techniques, creating pinch pots and small sculptures that were then fired, glazed, and strung onto cables for the installation. Glazing assistance was generously provided by community volunteers and members of the Culver City Senior Center.

“I loved interacting with such a diverse range of Culver City community members,” Krantz said. “It was exciting to be able to offer free ceramics programming – people seemed to really enjoy taking part in the workshops, not only for the artmaking but also because the workshops offered an opportunity to relax and connect with their neighbors. The project also gave community members the opportunity to express how they feel about living here. I found it fascinating that the word ‘brainstorm’ was able to capture such a wide range of perspectives. Lastly, it was so exciting to work with this group of talented poets and see the work they created from the community generated words.”

The reception included opening remarks from Mayor Yasmine-Imani McMorrin and Cultural Affairs Commission Chair Brenda Williams. In addition to a project summary by Krantz, the program featured readings by seven local poets: Topacio Althaus, Brian Sonia-Wallace, Janet Hoult, Karen Gibson Roc, Leah Johnson, Kate Burns, and Bri Stokes, who each authored and read original pieces for the project.

Other speakers included Jim Clarke, Chair of the Culver City Arts Foundation, and Cultural Affairs Commission Artist Laureate Subcommittee members Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin and Tania Fleischer who each played a pivotal role in bringing the Artist Laureate program into existence. Also in attendance were Vice Mayor Dan O’Brien, Councilmember Göran Eriksson, and Councilmember Freddy Puza. An accompanying book, Dear Culver City…, was published and distributed at the event along with copies of the recently published Culver City Art in Public Places Downtown Cultural Walking Tour, 35th Anniversary Edition.

The Artist Laureate Program is made possible by the City of Culver City and its Cultural Affairs Commission, with additional funding from the Culver City Arts Foundation. The installation will be on display at Culver City City Hall until early summer.

Watch the video below to see more from the event.

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