The Westfield Valencia Town Center might not be your first idea when you’re thinking of a place to set up an art gallery, but Academy of the Canyons senior Austin Pechan says it’s an ideal spot.
Malls are well-known for being hang-out spots for high schoolers, so Pechan wanted to make sure that the art done by his peers was seen by his peers, as well as by members of the community.
“I just figured… if I have a localized and a localized place like the mall, then people were stopping by, people from other schools can help like really engage in, like, the art in Santa Clarita.”
When Pechan, an artist himself, was deciding on what to do for his senior capstone project, he said that whatever his project was going to be, it had to incorporate art and collaboration.
“I’ve always wanted to do something like the arts. So I took this as an opportunity to, you know, reach out to the Hart district, like, work with all these different artists and then, you know, put on this whole display you see here,” said Pechan. “It’s awesome.”
Pechan said that although he couldn’t pinpoint exactly why he specifically wanted to create a collaborative art gallery in the mall, one of the reasons had a personal aspect.
He said that going to art museums, like The Getty, with his father was one of the reasons he became so fond of galleries. He said those positive experiences with his dad were a direct inspiration for the idea of setting up this one for his capstone project.
The gallery was set up in the atrium behind the Canyon Club at the southeast entrance of the mall, and featured physical art and tapestries by students from Golden Oak Adult School but also featured digital art set up on several monitors. Most of the digital art was done by artists at AOC, which Pechan seemed to be proud of.
“There’s a couple that really stand out: that portrait over there. It’s really nice,” said Pechan. “I really like that one. This whole time-lapse and this whole piece that’s playing right here, is really cool. You see that second monitor at the end? When it rotates back through there’s like a sunset photo… that’s like this landscape… I think it’s also really cool.”
What Pechan is describing are the animations in the digital art. While some of the pieces were still, some were animated and featured changing color schemes and landscapes, time lapses, and other tricks only possible in digital art.
“Frankly, I think Santa Clarita needs more art,” said Pechan. “I think it needs more public displays like this, [it] needs more… things where we can actually get, like, art out to the community.”