Hope floats in MacArthur Park


Do you remember when vibrantly painted flowers bloomed on the beachfront lifeguard towers of Los Angeles in the summer of 2010? Or how about in 2007, when the rooftops of New York City taxicabs were festooned with bright botanicals, turning the skyscraper view of the streets of Manhattan into a moving garden? Those and other public projects are the brushwork of Portraits of Hope, a non-profit organization founded by local brothers Ed and Bernie Massey, an artist and a social entrepreneur, respectively. Portraits of Hope conceives and develops one-of-a-kind motivational public works projects for which local communities participate in the artwork’s production, merging art-making, creative therapy, and civic education.

Portraits of Hope
This summer, Los Angeles will once again be the beneficiary of one of the Masseys’ massive projects: Spheres of Hope. Starting in the third week of August and remaining for four weeks, 7,000 vinyl spheres hand-painted with brightly colored floral and aquatic designs will be floating on the lake at MacArthur Park in downtown Los Angeles. These “drought-resistant flowers” are meant to beautify and revitalize what Ed Massey calls “an area that needs a little bit of love,” and draw attention to an urban park that many Angelenos have not visited. As with all of the Masseys’ projects, the painters come from a large swath of the local community: hospital patients, students, and members of social service and community groups. From young patients at Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Long Beach to athletes from this summer Special Olympics World Games, a mosaic of Angelenos and visitors are coming together to produce this floating wonder.
Portraits of Hope / MacArthur ParkYou and your family (children in 3rd grade and up) can also be a part of creating this one-of-a-kind work. On Saturday, July 25 at 9 am through Sunday, July 26 at 9 am everyone is invited to attend a 24-hour paint-a-thon in Playa Vista. 

The minimum time commitment is one-and-a-half hours (maximum is ten!). We attended one of the painting parties for the lifeguard tower project, and found it a casual and inventive way to engage kids in the creation of a major spectacle. Spheres of Hope will undoubtedly garner much attention when it debuts, and it’s fun to play a part in the process, and then go see the finished result when it’s unveiled.

Portraits of Hope

To participate, email poh@portraitsofhope.org and tell them:

1) How many painters you are bringing (adults and children)

2) What time you plan on joining the painting party

3) How long will you stay to paint

Portraits of Hope

Expect music, mess, and merriment! Once Spheres of Hope is over, the spheres will be donated to social services organizations across the nation, which will use them to beautify their own spaces and as a reminder of this inspiring project. 

Written by Stacey Ravel Abarbanel