Simon’s Students’ Upcycling Art Delights Drivers

The art, painted by campers is in the median at Chautauqua and Sunset Boulevards.

The median between Chautauqua and Sunset Boulevard was barren, until artist and resident Cindy Simon, with help from Y-campers, gave it a new look.

Simon wrote: “P.R.I.D.E. has designed and funded landscaping for this island and they have been waiting for the go-ahead from L.A. City to start. In the meantime, why not beautify this entry to the Palisades the best way we know how – with children’s art.”

Every summer, Simon, a Palisades resident, does upcycling public art projects with YMCA campers at Simon Meadow in Temescal Gateway Park.

Simon tells the campers that the project they work on will be shown somewhere in the public domain.

She said that Palisades-Malibu YMCA Executive Director, Jim Kirtley, the father of two teens, always encourages campers to “be collaborative.”

“This year we made 45 cardboard flowers, and the campers painted them all,” Simon said. “I told the kids where they would be planted and told them to be sure and have their folks drive them by to see them when “planted.”

Simon’s son, Griff, helped her hammer the flowers into the ‘hard as concrete’ dirt on that dead island. “This is a public art beautification project to benefit our community.”

Campers painted the flowers.

Every year Simon comes up with a different recycling or upcycling art project.

“One of my favorite projects was when I got 10 large cardboard squares and we glued all kinds of cardboard boxes, newspaper, paper trash stuff to each one and then painted them,” Simon said. “We put these ‘cardboard panels’ up on the fence which at the time, divided the parking lot from the Meadow and served as a ‘Welcome to Simon Meadow.’”

One year she collected clear plastic bottles and cut out the front. “Campers painted them and then we planted small plants in each one and hung them at the entrance to Winding Way,” Simon said. Another year, campers collected different sizes of sticks & branches and then they wrapped them with yarn & scrap fabric. “We stuck them in the pots within Winding Way.”

Winding Way is a path through trees that was developed within the meadow that houses the annual YMCA pumpkin and tree sales.

When Tracey Price’s landscaping company, American Growers had left-over wood pallets, Simon took them and led campers in painting them different colors. Then, they were installed like a fence border.

“Last year I collected from my friends and neighbors the inserts that come from wine bottles that are shipped to residences,” Simon said. “When you take out the wine bottles you realize those inserts are all kinds of crazy shapes. We painted those and hung them on a fence in Winding Way during October Pumpkin Patch.”

Cindy Simon is an artist who uses recycling, such as aluminum, to create “art.”

This year for the Fourth of July, she decorated her fence post with upcycling—all individual panels of aluminum foil-based art. She didn’t enter the Fourth of July Home decorating contest because “I won last year and didn’t want to push any newcomer out.”

Much to the delight of 4th of July parade goers, the panels were taken off her fence and added to the Palisades YMCA float, giving it a unique look.

When she’s with campers, Simon said, “I always talk to them about how art can be many things – that it’s not just something you paint on a white canvas.

“I tell them I always keep my eyes out for colorful plastic bottles lids, unusual cardboard boxes or stuffing, plastic bubble wrap – stuff most people would throw away but I say can be transformed into a piece of art!

“Some of the campers I see year after year and it’s pure delight for  me that they remember all the past projects we’ve done together,” Simon said.

The panels that Cindy Simon created were used on the YMCA’s float that was entered in the Pacific Palisades Fourth of July parade.
Photo: Joy Daunis

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3 Responses to Simon’s Students’ Upcycling Art Delights Drivers

  1. Eileen says:

    What terrific and creative projects!

  2. Patty Adelmann says:

    Well done, Cindy!! Quite intriguing to look at and to bring a smile on the faces of all the drivers who drive past! You’re the best!

  3. Debbie Hiatt says:

    So wonderful that Cindy Simon is teaching the community to recycle and be creative!!!!!!
    That is a feel good act of kindness!!!

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