Local Artists Show Off on Pico Blvd.

A proud display of ceramics and glass blowing from the Santa Monica College art department dazzled and educated residents this past Saturday. The Pico Improvement Organization and the City of Santa Monica held the third annual Pico Art Walk and Car Show, in which several organizations, shops and car enthusiasts displayed their best show-and-tell material along Pico Blvd., collectively creating a three-mile exhibit that residents and tourists alike perused. Inside the glassblowing room in the visual arts building on campus, attendees were met with glowing heat from furnaces and a live view of students swirling colored glass and working with a range of designs to create vases, paperweights and figures of pumpkins. While glassblowing, the students gathered up clear, molten glass from inside the furnaces with long, metal tubes, shaped the lump with a water-soaked block of cherry wood and rolled it in a smooth bowl full of colored glass in order to achieve various tones. Dawn Davenport, an art student at SMC who has been glassblowing for about eight years, described the technicalities of the art. Her enthusiastic explanations ranged from a review of the various tools, such as a metal, pressing device called a "pineapple hold" that created what she calls a "perfect design" of air bubbles within the glass, to the ancient history of the craft as a whole. "Glassblowing has changed very little since first century B.C.," Davenport said. "We've been using the same tools for thousands of years." Davenport said that Augustus of the ancient Roman Empire, reportedly one of the earliest recorded proponents of glassblowing, would have been proud. Just outside the glassblowing building were tables full of elaborate contributions from the ceramics classes such as handmade calligraphy brushes, vases, sculptures, pendants, mugs and bowls for sale. Across the hallway, a couple of students sat behind pottery wheels and spoke while demonstrating the process of shaping their pieces. Colleen Dinwiddie, an part-time art student at SMC, took part in presiding over the display. She eloquently described "Raku," a process involving trash cans, combustible material and fire to creates smoky effects and unique, flashy metallics in the glaze of the pots. Just down the street, lining the walkways at Virginia Avenue Park, several white tents roofed a variety of visual work from artists all over southern California. These displays included graffiti art, African carvings and portrait painting, which the professionals would often demonstrate live while making sales those passing by. A group of high-school jazz musicians from the Grammy Alumni Band, which they formed after a two-week program at a selective music camp, played music that they themselves wrote, while a few other youth danced in front of the stage. Further east down Pico Blvd. about 30 antique Chevrolet cars sparkled in the sunlight, their proud owners watching them closely as onlookers practically drooled over the details of their restored paint-jobs. Andy Gonez, a Santa Monica resident, car enthusiast, and owner of a gorgeous, black 1948 Chevrolet Fleetline coupe organized the car show. "I've been restoring cars for a while," he said, "and when [the Pico improvement Organization] asked me to help put this show on, I was happy to do it." Local businesses also provided complimentary foods and beverages throughout the entire stretch. And the SMC Art Department can attract a crowd at least this size for their upcoming "Holiday Student Art Sale" in mid-December, which, according to Davenport, is a "great way to earn funds for the programs" Students will once again exhibit glassblowing, ceramics, jewelry-making, and drawing in classrooms in the Arts Complex and sell their work to students and visitors alike.