WOODLAND HILLS—The Village at Westfield Topanga, which is scheduled to open next month, has announced its plans to incorporate the history of the Valley into the public art display and performance area of the open-air mall at Warner Center.
The shopping center will use murals, mosaics and other art installations by LA-based street artist Elkpen, The West Valley Boys & Girls Club of Canoga Park and UCLA’s School of the Arts and Architecture to bring the Valley’s environmental and agricultural past to the modern retail space.
At the center of the public art exhibit will be four 14 by 48 foot murals on the wall outside the rising superstore, Costco on Victory Boulevard. Westfield commissioned local street artist, Christian Kasperkovitz, better known as Elkpen, to lead the creative vision of the larger than life artwork.
Elkpen, whose art typically focuses on the convergence of urban development and the environment, was a natural fit for the project. On her website she writes, “My work is a union of words and images. I am telling stories about wildlife and our relationship to it. For me it’s essentially a kind of cartographic endeavor: how to translate something nearly too large to see and comprehend, meanwhile completely around us, into something that makes sense in our daily lives.”
She translated the San Fernando Valley’s environmental, economic and cultural evolution into a vivid timeline that captures the region’s history and also offers a peek into the environmental future of the surrounding natural areas.
Elkpen, whose art can be seen on buses, buildings, fences and benches throughout the US and Canada, was enthusiastic about collaborating with Westfield. She told Woodland Hills Magazine that, “Westfield’s interest in getting behind art that talks about the natural history of the San Fernando Valley and the Los Angeles River, the change that has happened in their mutual and respective ecologies, and what we might do today as natural citizens is remarkable. It was a great opportunity to be part of this.”
Westfield also partnered with The West Valley Boys & Girls Club of Canoga Park to create cement mosaic benches, which will line the face of the Costco along Victory Boulevard.
The mosaics were designed in a summer arts program at The West Valley Boys & Girls Club, which took place throughout June and July. Guiding the young artists was Early Childhood Education specialist Amy Weisberg and Karen Stilton, an artist, educator and the founder of MosaicMorphosis. Stilton’s mosaics are featured all over Los Angeles including the Getty.
This was not the first time Stilton and Weisberg worked together. They first joined forces several years ago to teach a summer mosaic class, says Weisberg in an article in the Topanga Messenger. In that class was a young girl named Sarah Green, who is the daughter of Larry Green, the Vice President of U.S. Development for Westfield. Green told Weisberg how much the children enjoyed the program and his desire to share the opportunity with others, as well as incorporate the project into the development of The Village. Once the Department of Cultural Affairs approved the project, plans were underway.
Other emerging artists will also have their works featured in The Village through UCLA Arts’ “Art In Public Spaces” program, which will debut a work named “Red Car,” submitted in 2014 by Nova Jiang, a 2009 M.F.A graduate. Jiang’s work remembers Pacific Electric, LA’s transit system of the early 1900s.
The new $300 million Westfield development, set to open in September 2015, will rejuvenate the roots of the Valley through a new wave of appreciation for the land and the community via artworks of the LA greater area. The incorporation of such pieces gives artist and creative minds of the San Fernando Valley a forum to congregate and share works in an artistic basin beneath sycamore trees lined with native grass.