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Portraits of Hope Education and Schools

Lifeguard Towers

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Summer of Color

Lifeguard Towers of Los Angeles 2009-2010

Summer of Color is the largest public art project in the U.S., and also one of the largest civic efforts in the world.  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 beachgoers 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.

Background: 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. 

Portraits of Hope projects integrate civic education and engagement, creative therapy, and the visual arts, providing youngsters and adults with an opportunity to collaborate on high-profile public projects.

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 the panels.

In schools, Summer of Color participants engaged in interdisciplinary education sessions in which they assessed, discussed and communicated their thoughts on social issues affecting their communities and the world, including civic leadership, the environment, education, and health care. The larger art collaboration - painting the panels for the towers - was a group effort to demonstrate tangibly the power of community teamwork and civic engagement. 

Founded by brothers Ed Massey and Bernie Massey, Portraits of Hope has involved tens of thousands of children and adults in huge civic collaborations - in the U.S. and abroad – that have visually transformed everything from airplanes, buildings, and the New York City taxi fleet to blimps, tugboats, and NASCAR race cars.

The flower is a universal symbol of joy, life, youth, beauty, renewal, and the environment. It is a design theme integral to Summer of Color. Geometric shapes are also core design elements in the project – as the young participants will be responsible for “shaping the future.”

After the Exhibition: The art panels will be donated to the participating institutions and to social service agencies around the world for the beautification of interior and exterior settings. Many of the panels will be shipped to Haiti for transitional homes, temporary shelters, schools, hospitals, and senior centers. This action replicates the process in which thousands of Garden in Transit panels from New York City were utilized in New Orleans after Katrina for transitional homes, school buildings, and government structures.

In the Fall the lifeguard tower rails and cross beams will get a fresh coat of paint compliments of UCLA’s freshman class and volunteers from Starbucks and from greater LA. This new coat follows the initial painting of the rails completed by 1,200 volunteers in preparation for the Summer of Color exhibition.

Acknowledgements: Portraits of Hope is grateful to Los Angeles County Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky of the 3rd District and Don Knabe of the 4th District for their leadership throughout the project.  Portraits of Hope extends a very special thank you to the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors and the Los Angeles County Lifeguards whose association in Summer of Color has been inspiring and very much appreciated.

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.

The partnership and support of the private sector makes it possible to involve thousands of children in the program and to promote the project’s themes of civic leadership, environmental initiative, and community engagement. 

Key partners and pillars of the project are:

Ford Motor Company, which helped the LA County Lifeguards go green, and whose hybrid vehicles will be utilized for the installation of the panels on the beach towers; Laird Plastics and Recyling, the first company in its industry to recycle outdoor plastic boards; Image Options printing and technology services; Benjamin Moore Paints, Skinny Cow, Verseidag Seemee US, EFI Vutek, Morley Builders, Vista Paint, The Weingart Foundation, CornerstoneOnDemand, Drumstick, Chris Bonas, Casa Del Mar, Adina Beverages, AAA Flag and Banner, Nazdar Coatings, Robert Gore Rifkind Foundation, Helen and Peter Bing, Starbucks Volunteer Services, Subversive Nature Designs, MACtac, The Barnes Family, Hasbro Studios, Wooster Brush, The Bachelor, A.V.I. Construction, The Newberg Family, Debra Ricketts, The Penske Family, The Davidow Charitable Fund, among other businesses, foundations, and individuals.

Life Guard Towers Area Map