LOS ANGELES — The Occupy Track 16 exhibition opened last December 3 and closes, according to the gallery’s website, “when we get results.” It seems they might have gotten results, but not one that they were hoping.
Occupy Track 16 was a solidarity movement put on by Track 16 gallery at Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station. It asked anyone who dropped by the gallery to “write on our walls your ideas about how we as the human race can create positive change for our future.” It continues, “It’s not about complaints … it’s about being as creative as possible when it comes to envisioning that elusive better world. Put on your thinking cap, practice smiling, and add your vision to our walls!”
In three months, Track 16’s massive space was filled with scrawls, epithets, words of wisdom that glowed with positivity like “love can keep us together,” “love yourself as you would love someone else” or “be here now.” Some contented themselves with whimsical line drawings of rocket ships blasting off in space, angry bears or vaguely leaf-like flourishes.
With the exception of some skeptic scrawls, the wall’s varied messages diverged from the usual negativity expressed on the streets by the Occupy movement. Some messages can seem trite, but others, when read by the right person at the right time can seem profound. With such an open and welcoming process, the walls really became a catch-all for all of our hopes, dreams, frustrations — much like the Occupy movement itself. The whole exercise feels aimless, too optimistic to ever be realized, but as a whole, it certainly reminds viewers that we are not alone in our dreams of building a better world. That, at least, is worth something. Though the solidarity movement has no legs, its constant presence was omni-present wake-up call to those who happened to pass by. Sadly, it’s a wake-up call that will no longer nudge anyone out of his or her sleep.
Last March 22, I found myself at the gallery just in time to see them start removing the markings from the wall using white paint. Ironically, like Occupy movements everywhere, Track 16 found themselves soon-to-be unwelcome guests at the Bergamot Station.
The gallery is being demolished to make way for a planned Expo Line Metro stop. The gallery has received no concrete move-out date yet, but they know it’s coming, says executive director Laurie Steelink. The gallery has been mulling their options, but with no immediately available gallery space, it will most likely start moving their inventory into storage.
Before the ax finally lands, visit Track 16 at 2525 Michigan Avenue, Bldg C-1, Santa Monica, California.
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