LA County Civic Artwork Receives Award from Public Art Network

Artist Kim Abeles recognized For Collaboration with Female Inmates Who Fight Fire

'Americans for the Arts' Honors Project that Embedded Abeles in Los Angeles County Fire Department's Malibu Conservation Camp #13

Los Angeles, CA - June 14, 2019 - Americans for the Arts honors 50 outstanding public art projects created in 2018 through the Public Art Network Year in Review program. Public Art Network Year in Review is the only national program that specifically recognizes exceptional artistic contributions to the field of public art.

Among those recipients, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission is pleased to announce Camp Ground: Arts, Corrections and Fire Management in the Santa Monica Mountains (CAMP), a project by artist Kim Abeles and managed by the Armory Center for the Arts, is honored to be recognized for this award. Over the course of the two-year project, Abeles was embedded in the Malibu Conservation Camp #13 to work with the female inmates who fight fires in the region to create a series of 10 mixed media suitcases (valises). As a highly collaborative process, the women provided the content for these valises through their experiences with firefighting and fire abatement methods. Each valise has a theme with specific talking points, and all of them circle back toward teaching issues about fire abatement and our connection to the wilderness that Fire and National Park Services are using in their educational public outreach events to increase public awareness, engagement and responsible stewardship.

Abeles and Fire outreach volunteers demonstrated the valises at the Fire Service and Public Safety Day and NPS events. They have been on display at the Irvine Fine Arts Center, Orange Coast College, Women’s Center for Creative Work, CSU San Bernardino, Friends of UN Women National Committee and the Newport Beach Film Festival. The completed valises were displayed at the Armory Center for the Arts from September 1 – 30, 2018 in the exhibition, Valises for Camp Ground: Arts, Corrections and Fire Management in the Santa Monica Mountains. Abeles will be developing a training video that can accompany the valises and be accessed on the Fire and NPS websites.

Camp Grounds: Arts, Corrections, and Fire Management in Santa Monica Mountains By Kim Abeles

This year the PAN Year in Review received 361 applications, their largest set of submissions in over five years from public art programs and artists from across the US and beyond. A total of 50 projects were selected from the open call process.

The best of public art can challenge, delight, educate and illuminate. Most of all, public art creates a sense of civic vitality in the cities, towns and communities we inhabit and visit, said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. As these Public Art Network Year in Review selections illustrate, public art has the power to enhance our lives on a scale that little else can. I congratulate the artists and commissioning groups for these community treasures, and I look forward to honoring more great works in the years to come.

The projects selected for Year in Review can be viewed on the 2019 Year in Review page and will be displayed throughout Annual Convention. Two independent public art experts—artist Seitu Jones of Saint Paul, Minnesota, and Aaron Ott, Curator of Public Art at Albirght Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York—discussed the trends they uncovered while examining hundreds of submissions in selecting this year’s choices for the most exemplary, innovative permanent or temporary public art works created or debuted in 2018.

The complete presentation, which includes photos and descriptions of all 50 projects, will be available for purchase through Americans for the Arts’ store.

Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, DC, and New York City, it has a record of more than 55 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at