Artistic work criticizes the lack of preservation in the Pico district

Ashley Napier, Special for the Daily Press

At their most recent event, the 18th Street Arts Center asked, “What is a landmark?” in the context of the Pico neighborhood, with an open panel discussion with the Danish multidisciplinary artist Maj Hasager and a look at the inequalities of land designation in Santa Monica.

The 18th Street Arts Center hosted the zoom panel last weekend in connection with Hasager’s latest work “Three Structures Touching”. The five-person panel discussed the injustices embedded in the landmark designation process, how society attaches “importance” or “importance” to landmarks, and how we can change our mindset to analyze how and why we place landmarks in historical and cultural context Attach importance to the pico district. The committee included the author and researcher Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, the landmarks expert Ruthann teacher of the Santa Monica Conservancy and the director of the Quinn Research Center, Carolyne Edwards.

The moderator and assistant director of the 18th Street Arts Center, Sue Bell Yank, asked panelists to define a landmark.

While teachers gave a landmark in a textbook description as “a place of concern to a broad community,” Dr. Jackson made a passionate response, saying that “Landmarks are the places that matter”.

This opened the ground for Carolyne Edwards, director of the Quinn Research Center, to announce her disdain for the poor conservation of the Pico neighborhood.

“These stories of each of these buildings being demolished have cultural or historical value,” she said. “And these stories have to be written down, otherwise the stories and the culture and the feelings of the people who inhabited them will be gone forever.”

Edwards’ description of the loss in the district inspired Hasager to write “Three Structures Touching” – a series that aims to highlight the “archaic requirements necessary for the designation of historic districts in the United States,” according to Yank. Hasager’s series sheds light on the importance of the pico neighborhood kept alive by the Quinn Research Center in a series of short films, interactive soundscapes, and wooden sculptures.

The Quinn Research Center is an archive of the small but influential black community in the Santa Monica Bay area since the early 20th century. The center was founded by Edwards, the niece of Dr. Alfred T. Quinn, a prominent black educator, community leader, and icon of the Santa Monica Bay Area. She runs the center from her parents’ home in Santa Monica with her husband, Bill Edwards.

Hasager is known for her work on memory, architecture and history construction and was inspired to create this series in an effort to “create a wider audience” aware of the inequalities that minority landmark designations face Process “a disaster”.

Hasager said U.S. culture needs to expand its notion of a landmark beyond architecture by examining how society assigns meaning to certain places, how easily history is forgotten and how difficult it is to preserve.

According to the City of Santa Monica, landmarks are “considered to be of the highest individual historical or architectural importance. Therefore, in addition to the contributing buildings, which are located in historical quarters, the sights are also given the highest protection in terms of renovation and demolition. “

The panel discussion discussed solutions for the naming of landmarks and the assignment of meaning with the question: “How do we conduct a lively dialogue about preservation and how do we systematize it?”

Teacher suggested that while a public art component is a path, the solution is to teach people how to find meaning in their communities.

She said education is the best way to combat the ephemeral memory of landmarks by teaching children the meaning in school or by offering community members tours and excursions.

Edwards emphasizes this by stating that “we must promote the same values ​​and a sense of not only wanting to preserve a particular building but also to preserve the history and culture”.

For more information, visit Hasager’s “Three Structures Touching” exhibition on the campus of the 18th Street Arts Center Gallery Airport by making an appointment on their website ( maj-hasager /).

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