The historic Alex Theatre was opened in 1925 as a vaudeville house, and movie palace. It continued to show movies until 1991, when it closed and was remodeled. In 1993 it was re-opened and now plays host to musicals, ballets, orchestras, still shows movies, and can be seen in various television shows, and can even be rented for special events.
When the Alex Theatre wanted to do something different to celebrate their 90th Anniversary, they reached out to the following organizations: Glendale Arts, Yarn Bombing Los Angeles, Art from the Ashes, Jewel City Knitters, The Pasadena Crochet Group, Burbank Fiber Fiends, and the Braille Institute. The scope of this project was huge, and it would take over 70 individuals, from 6 different states, and even 1 country to send in their submissions. The fiber artists were informed about the yarn bombing/art installation in early September. There was a tight deadline of only 6 weeks from the time meetings were held until the actual big reveal night.
Since this was an art project everyone was encouraged to be creative, and to do their own thing. The only requests the Alex Theatre had, were they wanted the groups, and individuals to use certain colors of yarn. The colors requested were gold, teal, copper, red, hunter green, royal blue, browns, and earth tones. Otherwise people could use any pattern they wanted or they could make up their own. A special thank you to Red Heart for donating yarn to help us with out project.
The groups were given measurements of items which were to be covered in yarn. There was a 35 foot wall inside the theatre lobby which was to be covered in 12 x 12 inch squares. Also 4 large pillars on the inside 2nd level, which measured 52 inches around, and were 10.5 feet tall. To make it less overwhelming people were asked to make 12 x 52 inch panels, which were then sewn together by Natalie Welts, Nicolas Welts, Silvia Mendoza, Lynne Hopper, and Janice Ogata, and then anchored onto the pillars.
The 2 pillars outside of the theatre were massive, and to be covered in vines, leaves, flowers, and insects. They measured 20 feet tall and over 9 feet in circumference. This is where we got a chance to be really creative, and these were the most challenging to cover. The organizers wanted it to look like vines were climbing up the pillars, but we had to get the yarn to stay onto the pillars without using tape, velcro or other such sticky agents. In the end vines, flowers, leaves, and insects were each individually hand sewn onto sturdy 20 feet long panels by a group of artists led by Yarn Bombing Los Angeles’ David Orozco, and Judy Richards.
Some people might wonder why do a yarn bombing, what it the purpose of a yarn bombing? At the opening night reception I witnessed people touching the yarn, taking photos, smiling and talking to one another. People made comments such as, “This project so joyful,” “You can feel the happy energy in the room.” “This is so wonderful, I never knew this could be accomplished with yarn.” I think the purpose of a yarn bombing/art installation is to bring people together who wouldn’t ordinarily have a chance to meet. It’s also a chance for people to unleash their creativity, and for them to NOT be afraid to act like a child again.
If you are in California and can make the trip to the historic Alex Theatre, the installation will be on display until January 5th, 2016. Here are links to some of the groups who participated; please feel free to contact them for more info.
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Until then if you want to give yarn bombing a try, why not start off with something small, like a tree in your front yarn, and watch how much happiness you will bring to others as they stop to admire your work.