Sixteen years ago, in 1998, Sunland resident Rebecca L. Mate inaugurated an international holiday for the arts called Art Day, which is held the second Friday in August of each year.
Art Day, also known as International Art, or Artist, Day, “is an art installation on a large scale,” Mate said. The arts holiday, Mate added, “recognizes artists as cultural leaders and debunks demeaning myths about artists, such as `all artists are crazy’ and what part of the brain spews out imagination and creativity.” Mate is a painter, an award-winning published writer of short stories, a novelist, and a photographer.
The annual Art Day has expanded to include the Art Day Games, an idea of designer Eugenia May-Montt. In 2013, LA City councilman Felipe Fuentes (District 7) recognized Art Day, the games, and artists in the council district, which includes Sunland-Tujunga, Shadow Hills, and Lake View Terrace, with a city proclamation. In the proclamation the council “encourage[s] everyone to celebrate this special day in a way that supports and acknowledges the artists who have made the most impact on their lives.”
Mate said, “In its current scale, the Art Day Games are a far cry from my vision of televised live events with huge crowds and commentators giving their analysis. To make it interesting and to give it its international flavor, I allowed competitors to play for the country where they live, were born, or where one of their parents was born. Every country has arts and culture and the games enable them to show off their artists to the world.”
In 2012, Sunland-Tujunga’s then-poet laureate Dorothy Skiles held a poetry competition for the Art Day Games. Skiles figured out how to ensure that the poetry had been created on the spot, and not earlier, by requiring contestants to use a specific noun, verb, and adjective combination in their poems that were chosen the day of the competition.
The winners of the 2014 competition, “Celebrate Local Beauty,” a contest in photography, included gold medalist Victoria Iafrate from the United States, silver medalist Claudia Chicas from El Salvador, and bronze medalist Angelique Suganuma from Japan.
“The art of photography allows us all to feel connected,” said Chicas. “At a time when we are watching the news about wars and people harming others, you want something for your soul.”
Planning is underway for next year’s Art Day Games, with the hope of featuring more art forms each year. Mate has marked the day in several ways in the past. “Over the years I’ve worn arts-related jewelry and clothing, [and have gone] to arts shops with family. I’ve produced an arts show at the Glendale Galleria, I coproduced a plein-air gathering in the park at the Americana, I’ve held my own Art Day celebrations with an Art Hunt for kids—like Easter eggs but hunting for hidden art supplies.
“Once the word is spread and people like the idea of acknowledging the arts and artists of all disciplines,” Mate added, “who knows what creativity may spring up.”