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Metlox Exhibit Celebrates Being 'Home For the Holidays' in Manhattan Beach

Nov 22, 2020 09:56AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

"Home for the Holidays" interactive exhibit by Sue Kneisley. Photo via Downtown Manhattan Beach Business and Professionals Association.

A new art installation at Metlox Plaza celebrates the idea of being "Home for the Holidays" in Manhattan Beach. 

The intricate display involves more than 200 tiny houses and is divided into "sections" of Manhattan Beach (Tree Section, Sand Section, Hill Section, East Manhattan, etc.). It invites visitors to participate by writing down on a small tag what home means to them. 

The display, by local artist Sue Kneisley, is inspired by what she says is her "love of Manhattan Beach- its beauty, people, and community."

"With the COVID pandemic looming over keeping us safer at home, I thought that a public art display highlighting Manhattan Beach would be fitting," Kneisley told DigMB. "I wanted the art to represent the essence of our city: the blue and turquoise swirls being the ocean waves, the 'lit' houses symbolizing the warmth of the residents, and the neighborhood sign posts facing inward on the tree trunks representing our cohesive community. The tulle pom-poms are a touch of holiday. They can be anything that evokes holiday such as ballerina tutus in The Nutcracker, snowballs from a favorite mountain, or the pom-pom on Santa's hat."

Kneisley said that to her, the most important aspect of this holiday art installation is the public's involvement. Visitors are encouraged to take a tag (found in a container on one of the trees), write their response to what home means to them, and then tie their tags to a tree. 

"I'm hoping that people will take a moment to reflect on their home life, community or whatever home may mean," said Kneisley. "When I think of home being Manhattan Beach, I feel very fortunate, especially in these times. I can't think of a better place to hunker down."

All told, putting the project together took about five weeks, said Kneisley.  For example, to make the houses, she had to waterproof the cardboard, construct the houses, fill them with cellophane, hot glue them shut, and thread hanging wire through their roofs. The swirls with pom-poms involved cutting circles from vinyl and then cutting the circles to make swirls, and punching holes in each end; one for hanging and the other to attach pom-poms. The pom-poms were formed by wrapping tulle around a cardboard rectangle and cinching the middle with wire and cutting the edges to make them fluffy.

"Each 'ornament' looks very simple on its own, but making about 275 swirls and pom-poms and constructing 200 small houses is very tedious and yet, meditative," noted Kneisley.

When the artwork was completed, it took six people and about four hours to install it at Metlox. 

"It's always an exciting but nervous time for me; you never know what it will look like or its impact until it is up," said Kneisley. "I like that this holiday installation comes from the heart, represents Manhattan Beach and is not a slick, sterile corporate holiday display. It's always a pleasure for me to do something for Manhattan Beach and I love a creative challenge."

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