Last year, more than 11,700 concerned art fans signed a Change.org petition asking the Santa Monica City Council to “Save the Bergamot Station Arts Center from Overdevelopment.” Gallery owners expressed concern that new construction would threaten the livelihoods of dozens of local business owners and ruin the character of Bergamot Station, turning the collection of 40 galleries and cultural institutions into a West Side version of The Grove. “It’s the only place I know of where you can go to park for free and wander around,” gallery owner Laura Korman says. “It’s for everybody, and that’s what I love so much about it. You don’t have to be an art collector or someone in the art world to enjoy it.”
Luckily, the Council listened. “They took our plea to heart and selected a developer that was the most conservative in terms of development,” Korman, who helped to form the Bergamot Station Gallery Cultural Association last year, says. ”It was really a great victory.” Bergamot Station is partially owned by the city, and the revenue collected from that land helps pay for Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus. The Jeff Worthe Real Estate Group was selected by the Council to take over the land lease when it expires in 2017 and is currently working with an 11-member advisory committee (which includes Bergamot Station gallery owners) to plan the mixed-use development, which may include additional parking, restaurants, and creative office space. In addition, the soon-to-be-running EXPO line may make it easier than ever to get to the galleries. The new EXPO stop (named ‘26th Street/Bergamot’) is actually on the station’s property, according to Korman. She says that although she and other gallery owners were initially wary about the stop’s location, they now view it as a positive change for Bergamot Station.
Here are five galleries to enjoy now that we know Bergamot is staying put.
Laura Korman Gallery – MIRROR | MIRROR: Introspective Reflections by Katherine Rohrbacher, opens September 10
William Turner Gallery – Confluence by Michael Braden, Andy Moses and Gregg Renfrow, opens September 10.
Skidmore Contemporary Art – City of Dreams by Eric Nash and California by Bradley Hankey. Both open September 5.
Shoshana Wayne Gallery – Another Green World by Russell Crotty, opens September 5.
Craig Krull Gallery – Vacation Views by Caroline Larsen and Strange Beauty by Joy Taylor. Both open September 5.
Photographs courtesy (in order): (1) Laura Korman Gallery; (2) William Turner Gallery; (3) Skidmore Contemporary Art; (4) Shoshana Wayne Gallery; (5) Craig Krull Gallery