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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Summer of Color - Lifeguard Towers of Los Angeles

According to the website www.portraitsofhope.orgSummer of Color is "the largest public art project in the U.S., and also one of the largest civic efforts in the world."
Memorial Day weekend 2010, we were at Ocean Park beach, south Santa Monica, with family and friends, celebrating my nephew's 10th birthday. The lifeguard towers obviously caught my eye (the quoted text is from the Portraits of Hope website).

"For five months beginning in May, the LA County lifeguard towers – on 31 miles of beach -- will be transformed into a collective work of art, a span that includes: Zuma, Point Dume, Malibu, Will Rogers, Santa Monica, Venice, Marina Del Rey, Playa Del Rey, Dockweiler, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Palos Verdes, and San Pedro."

"More than 40 million beach goers will visit these renowned beaches from May thru October."

"Summer of Color is the culmination of the efforts of nearly 6,000 children in schools, hospitals, and social service programs – and more than 2,500 adult volunteers – who have participated in the initiative’s program activities, which included the painting of the panels now installed on the walls and roof tops of the towers."

"For six months preceding the installation, 
Portraits of Hope engaged children and adults from 118 school, hospital, youth, and social service programs in civic leadership and creative therapy sessions. The Braille Institute, Special Olympics, Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitative Center, and Program for Torture Victims are among the many organizations that have participated."

"Many children and adults involved in the project have experienced a variety of medical and physical challenges."
"To meet the individual needs of children and adults with disabilities, Portraits of Hope developed specialized painting brushes and techniques including telescope paint brushes for those in wheel chairs or attached to IVs, the shoe brush ™ for individuals unable to manipulate a brush with their hands, and fruit-flavored mouth brushes for kids and adults with limited movement in their limbs."

"For persons visually impaired, Portraits of Hope utilized special textured paints. The program also reconfigured a baseball bat provided by St. Louis Cardinal Skip Schumaker into a bat-paint brush that the kids used to paint many of the flowers, fish, and shapes now on panels."

"As in other Portraits of Hope projects, Summer of Color is a privately funded and supported initiative."
"Much gratitude is extended to all the companies, individuals, and foundations which have partnered in the program and share the project’s themes and goals."

As I said, this time last year we were at the beach and noticed these amazingly colorful panels affixed to the lifeguard stations. Glad I had my camera.
Meanwhile, my kids and their cousins and friends were working on their own creation. The water was still quiet cold (most people in the water were wearing wet suits) but the kids found plenty to keep them busy.

My daughter with some kelp that washed ashore. She and her cousin were playing "animal shelter" or "store" (or both). 

Their little hole became a HUGE hole. Amazing what kids and a couple of shovels can do.

Reflecting back on our day at the beach, I'm reminded of the significance of creating something, of work.

Whether the Portraits of Hope's brightly colored artwork or a the kid's massive hole in the sand, there is a God-given (and I mean that in a literal sense) desire to create, to build ... to work.

Scripture affirm that work is a good thing. "Go to the ant . . . consider its ways and be wise" writes King Solomon. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart" encourages the Apostle Paul.

Portraits of Hope is successful because it enables people who otherwise could not work to do so - and to create something of beauty and significance.

If you ever needed another excuse to head down to the beach this summer, Summer of Color was worth seeing.

By the way, if you're looking for a great family-friendly beach, Ocean Park south of the Santa Monica Pier is the place. Not as crowded as just north of the Santa Monica Pier and not as crazy as Venice Beach.

More info on the Summer of Color project can be found at

.originally published 5/29/10
© 2011



Anonymous said...

Thank you for reposting.

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