October 20, 2018

Santa Monica’s SoHo

When Bergamot Station first opened its art gallery doors five years ago, more than 20,000 visitors showed up on opening night — to everyone’s surprise. It was a free celebratory evening many still remember. This Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m., as Bergamot takes note of its fifth anniversary, at least 20,000 are again expected to turn out for the occasion. It is perhaps the most extravagant happening in Los Angeles this weekend, and it is still free.

There is much to cheer about Bergamot Station on the occasion of its birthday. In its “before” phase, the 6.5-acre complex of art galleries was simply a dead-end street in an abandoned Santa Monica trolley stop. Today, it is an open, gritty-chic complex of 37 galleries housed in 10 corrugated metal buildings scattered around a large parking lot, plus the Santa Monica Museum of Art, three architecture firms, a custom frame shop and the Gallery Cafe. The parking lot usually can accommodate the day’s traffic, even a typical Saturday influx, but be forewarned: There is no way it can handle anything close to the thousands of cars expected this Sunday afternoon. Be prepared to park elsewhere and walk or taken the free shuttle bus from 26th and Cloverfield.