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‘We are a drop in the Ocean’ art installation at Palisades Park

Published on December 4, 2021

The temporary art installation, WE ARE A DROP WE ARE THE OCEAN, now on display at Palisades Park off Ocean Avenue overlooking the Santa Monica Pier.

Ocean Avenue is one of the most iconic and highly used streets in Santa Monica. The onset of the pandemic created a greater need for the community to be able to spend more time outdoors, and the City of Santa Monica quickly mobilized to make improvements to the streetscape. An Ocean Avenue Artists-in-Residence program is exploring how the street can be more people centered, and roadway enhancements feature a protected bike lane, and expansion of the eastern sidewalk for additional outdoor dining.

Artists in Residence

Through the Ocean Avenue Artists in Residence program, Here LA, an interdisciplinary design group, engaged residents and businesses in identifying and exploring additional ways of making the street more people centered. Conversations with local stakeholders and over 500 survey responses revealed that what people love most about the street is resounding: the unique natural setting, views of the Ocean, and the location of the street and park atop the bluff. Competing with this natural beauty is the nearby traffic corridor, which is a key gateway to the Pier, Third Street Promenade, the Downtown Santa Monica Expo Station, Tongva Park, and the rest of downtown. Due to this, much of the street’s physical space is dedicated to vehicles, which separates people from the park and views.

To bridge the divide, Here LA is using artistic activations that both celebrate and explore ways of improving the street. A temporary art installation has been mounted in Palisades Park to draw attention to the west side of the street and to create a unique visual that further complements the views. The art installation will be up from Thursday, December 2nd through early 2022 and can be viewed from the west or east side of the street between Broadway and Colorado Avenue.

Pop-Up Art Event

The new public art installation was celebrated at a community pop-up event on Saturday, December 4. Hosted by the City of Santa Monica’s Ocean Avenue Artists in Residence Program and Here LA. The firm will lead an arts-based community engagement process to gather feedback about how the street could be improved to better utilize its public spaces, support local businesses, and connect to adjacent corridors.

A temporary large-scale art installation mounted atop the park’s edge, between Broadway and Colorado Avenue, features transparent wire letters that spell out the phrase, “WE ARE A DROP WE ARE THE OCEAN”. The phrase calls you to a moment of reflection and provides great photo opportunities. In addition to the letters, prototypes of large play furniture in various colors and shapes have been placed in the park and you are invited to climb and interact with them.

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About Here LA

Founded in 2015 in Los Angeles by Amber Hawkes and Shannon Davis, Here LA is an urban planning and design firm that seeks to provide an equitable, social science perspective with an emphasis on the design process and community collaboration. Their focus on incorporating innovative, pop-up, and interactive community conversations into projects has allowed them to provide an arts-based approach, weaving collective art making into the urban design process.