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Project Willowbrook

Cultivating a Healthy Community Through Arts and Culture

Artist:
Rosten Woo and LA Commons
Date:
2013
Region:
Gateway/South LA
District:
Second
Location:
Project Willowbrook

Willowbrook, CA 90059
Department:
Second

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Project Description

NAMED ONE OF THE 50 BEST NEW PUBLIC ART PROJECTS BY AMERICANS FOR THE ARTS IN THE UNITED STATES in 2014

Project Willowbrook, was named one of the 50 best public art projects by the 2014 Public Art Network (PAN) Year in Review by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts.

Project Willowbrook: Cultivating a Healthy Community through Arts and Culture is a creative exploration of the Willowbrook area that promotes future civic development through a cultural asset study and art-based public engagement.  The project consisted of two phases. During phase one, LA Commons and Arts Commission staff conducted stakeholder interviews, focus groups and surveys to discover cultural assets, artists, organizations, venues, programs, and artworks, that are unique to Willowbrook and adjacent communities.

In phase two, artist Rosten Woo engaged the community by going door to door in order to curate a Home, Garden and Vehicle Tour of Willowbrook in his project titled, Willowbrook is...  The process uncovered sentimental architectural features such as a handcrafted fountain built by a resident using rubble collected over decades during the construction of the 105 Freeway.  Whimsical garden decor was also discovered including a toy train set and collection of pet tortoises.  The tour became an essential element to Celebrate Willowbrook at the MLK Center for Public Health on March 16, 2013 which showcased the people and traditions of the neighborhood.  Community members were welcomed for an afternoon of local food, music, and art.  Rosten’s work captured the pulse of the neighborhood through the artistic discovery of residents’ private homes, gardens, and daily lives. Information collected through this process and community gatherings was organized as a tool that may be used by planners to understand needs of Willowbrook residents. Through artistic planning tools, Project Willowbrook facilitated dialogue between residents and city planners to create a shared platform for civic development in Willowbrook.

Project Willowbrook presented a new approach to community outreach for future County planning and development efforts. The project capitalized on Los Angeles County’s over $600 million investment in health and infrastructure improvements in Willowbrook.  Among these improvements was the renovation and expansion of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital and a plan to improve pedestrian connectivity between the MLK Hospital and the Rosa Parks Metro Station.  The MLK Hospital is also the site of three site-specific civic artworks. 

Project Willowbrook is made possible through the support of the Office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and a generous award from the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant which encourages collaboration between public and private sectors to strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, or city around arts and cultural activities.

Please visit www.lacountyarts.org/willowbrook to find out more details about Project Willowbrook and to download a copy of the Willowbrook is... book. 

About the Artist

Rosen Woo is an LA-based designer, writer, and educator who’s work helps people understand complex systems and participate in group decision-making through a creative lens..  He is co-founder and former executive director of the the Center for Urban (CUP), a New York-based non-profit organization dedicated to using art and design to foster civic participation. His work has been exhibited at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Triennial, the Venice Architecture Biennale, Netherlands Architectural Institute, Storefront for Art and Architecture, Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and various piers, public housing developments, tugboats, shopping malls, and parks in New York City. He has written on design, politics, and music for such publications as the Village Voice, Rolling Stone, City Limits, and Metropolis Magazine. His first book, "Street Value," was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2010. In New York, he was an adjunct professor at Parsons the New School for Design and developed curricula for public high schools throughout the city.

LA Commons, a project of Community Partners, works in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles, facilitating artistic processes, open to all, that result in highly visible public art projects that tell dynamic neighborhood stories. LA Commons builds community by validating the importance of local narratives, enhancing the sense of belonging felt by a broad range of stakeholders and encouraging stronger ties between the people and places of Los Angeles.