Sunday, September 13, 2015

Floating Art Exhibit Awakens Interest in Philanthropy and Restores Brand Awareness to a Los Angeles Park

Near Downtown Los Angeles, there’s a park called MacArthur Park with an eight-acre lake. Built in the 1880’s, the park became a vacation destination surrounded by luxury hotels. In the early part of the 20th century, the MacArthur park area became known as the Champs-Élysées of Los Angeles. While not as large as one of Michigan’s Great Lakes, MacArthur Park’s lake recently became famous due to a unique floating art exhibit.

An estimated 2,500 vinyl colorful spheres were hand-painted by roughly 10,000 volunteers around the Los Angeles area and placed in the lake at MacArthur Park. Each inflatable sphere was hand-painted in floral or aquatic designs, and measured between four and six feet in diameter.

This unique art exhibition was orchestrated by the Los Angeles-based arts nonprofit Portraits of Hope, known for conceiving and developing one-of-a-kind motivational art projects. Portraits of Hope projects have transformed airplanes, buildings, and the New York City taxi fleet to blimps, tugboats, and NASCAR race cars. More than 800 hospitals, schools, after-school programs, and social service agencies have participated in Portraits of Hope projects and programmatic activities in addition to an array of adult community groups.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti attended the exhibit’s opening ceremony and remarked, “This project involves everything that’s good about Los Angeles…Great weather, open space, creativity, and social conscience.”

The founders of Portraits of Hope are brothers who were raised near MacArthur Park. One explained that the park was once a destination with its lake and paddle boats. The two brothers, Ed and Bernie Massey, wanted to revitalize the park and recreate its “Wow” factor. The “Spheres of MacArthur Park” will be on display for four weeks, and then, the spheres will be donated to local schools and hospitals.

The larger-than-life, multi-colored spheres were produced by volunteers from around Los Angeles – many of them schoolchildren and youth from the Braille Institute, Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, and the Shriners Hospital for Children, among others. In addition, a variety of businesses supplied all materials and transportation free of charge. Portraits of Hope co-founder Bernie Massey explained that the cost of the project would have been around $1.5 million if the community had not mobilized together.

There is no doubt that the art exhibit is colorful, memorable, and unique, but the most important take-away is that “through [children’s] participation, the youngsters learn about important social and community issues, the power of teamwork, and their ability to achieve.”

As a Los Angeles native, thanks to everyone who contributed to this amazing project because it truly gave MacArthur Park the Wow Factor and restored some much-needed brand awareness to MacArthur Park!

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.

Originally Posted on Nonprofit Quarterly. Reprinted with Permission.

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