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Annual Kite Festival Bridges Art and Physics with Fun in the Sun

Join Us Saturday, April 14 by the Santa Monica Pier
Halley Sutton

Come fly a kite with Otis College of Art and Design! The Creative Action Program will be hosting its seventh annual Kite Festival on April 14, 2018 from 11am – 4pm, just north of the Santa Monica Pier. The event is free and open to the public.

The 7th Annual Otis Kite Festival will honor Tom Van Sant, a legendary artist whose practice bridges the intersection of space and art. His innovative approach to constructing kites with fiberglass tubing and nylon fabric led to his reputation as the “Father of Modern Kite Making.”

Historically, the festival has served as an opportunity to link diverse communities in Los Angeles through the art of kite making. This fun and family-friendly festival allows Otis College students and artists to engage with the public through artist-led workshops. National kite artists are invited to create a “gallery in the sky” through their custom designed art-kites. Together, artists George Peters, Ron Gibian, Kevin Bayless, Richard DeLisio, and Rod and Marti Milburn, will exhibit a wonderful display of kites for public view.

This year, the Otis Creative Action Program will provide materials for participants to construct 3,000 kites! The kite-making stations will allow the public to design their very own art-kites and become part of the kite exhibition in the sky! Along with a variety of workshops based on the multi-disciplinary practice of honoree Van Sant, it is sure to be a fun, enjoyable day for all ages.

“This is a fantastic event for the whole family,” said Richard Shelton, Director of Creative Action at Otis College of Art and Design. “Kids will have the opportunity to learn about the physics of flight, work on their own creations, and watch some truly inspiring kites take to the skies.” Otis Kite Festival 2018 is made possible by the sponsorship of the Art4Moore organization, the Los Angeles World Airport, Drollinger Properties, Custom Hotel, Kite Pharma and others.

Festival will honor the artist behind the inspiration for the annual event

Tom Van Sant is an artist/scientist, architect, cartographer, inventor, and visionary. He has executed over 77 major murals and sculptures commissions for public spaces worldwide. His art has been featured in the Honolulu, Taipei, and Los Angeles International Airports; civic centers in Los Angeles, Newport Beach, and Inglewood; and corporate centers in Taipei, Manila, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Honolulu, and San Francisco. Van Sant is particularly renowned for his design of large-scale kites.

The homage to Van Sant will have particular resonance for Otis College of Art and Design, as it embarks on its 100th year anniversary in 2019. As alumni, it was the review of Van Sant’s body of work, his impressive kite designs from the 1970’s, and his suggestion that we revive the kite festivals he had done in the past that inspired the Otis Kite Festival in Santa Monica. Van Sant’s legendary status in the kite flying community energized many artists from around the country to join him in flight at the Otis Kite Festival.

Van Sant is also famous for his creation of the Geosphere, which lay the foundation for geo-mapping as we know it today. His public murals and sculptures are displayed worldwide and have become so ingrained in the culture that a recent newspaper article from the “OC Register” called Van Sant the most famous unknown artist in Orange County.

An opportunity to incorporate learning into a day of fun

This year’s Kite Festival will feature several workshops for kids that that focus on LAUSD’s S.T.E.A.M. initiatives (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math). As a whole, the workshops will integrate practices of the Common Core requirements in science with complementary instruction in art and design. All children who attend receive a DIY Kite Kit, inclusive of a color theory lesson. Participants learn about the design and physics involved in kite flying and decorate their own kites. Other workshops that will take place during the Festival include:

  • Sumi & Tetra Kite Making. This year’s Tetra Kite was designed by artist James McKinnon. The workshop will be led by Otis students and volunteers. Participants will construct Tetra kites, based on Alexander Graham Bell’s experimental design.
  • Color Theory Lessons & Watercolor Painting. Artist, Raghubir Kintisch, will demonstrate the power of color theory, using Van Sants series of watercolors as a learning tool. 
  • Sand Sculpture. Chris Crosson will create a “Dolphin” sculpture based upon Van Sant’s work of the same name. and teach sand castle-making workshops throughout the day.
  • Reflections from Earth and Solar Technology. Based on Van Sant’s Space Art, artist Christopher Piallat will create a “Sun Chimes” sculpture with recyclable materials and Mark Farina & Chris G will demonstrate how kids can “spin records” using solar technology. 
  • Plein Air Drawing with Mike Cedeno at Camera Obscura. Join artist Mike Cedeno, just west of the Pier at Camera Obscura, for a lightly guided day of drawing using the natural world as inspiration. Drawing supplies will be provided.

Organizations throughout Los Angeles county, including group homes, public schools, county facilities, treatment centers, and special needs homes, have pledged to bring local children to the event, which is free for all attendees. Any kite materials that aren’t used during the Kite Festival will be donated to the Jacaranda Foundation in Malawi, a school in Malawi with which the Otis College Creative Action Program has recently partnered.

The Festival can be easily located using Los Angeles’s Expo Line, Metro, and Big Blue Bus. Parking is available near the Santa Monica Pier for $10 – 15 for an all-day pass. RSVP to the event and learn more about the logistics of attending the Festival.