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About Art At the Airport

Rebecca Youssef, the founder and co-producer of Art at the Airport, recognized the lingering impact the pandemic had on the artists-in-residence at the renowned 18th Street Arts Center’s Santa Monica Airport campus. Although accustomed to working in solitude for extended periods, the artists experienced a heightened sense of isolation due to the lack of interaction with their peers and the wider artistic community.


As pandemic restrictions began to ease, Youssef saw the need to revitalize the studios and re-energize the resident artists, so she took action. "The mission was to bring back a sense of connection and community among the artists who had been profoundly impacted by the pandemic," explains Youssef. She penned a proposal and successfully secured the Art of Recovery Grant, an initiative by Santa Monica Cultural Affairs, to produce a series of artist-led, open studio events in the historic airplane hangar that houses the studios of over 25 working artists.


From the onset, Art at the Airport succeeded in reinvigorating the artists' creativity and motivated them to create and exhibit new artwork to the public. The events also acted as a catalyst for reconnecting artists with the Santa Monica community. What began as a small community gathering has blossomed into a significant event, attracting over 500 visitors per event. "It's a testament to the power of art and its ability to bring people together," says co-coordinator Alexandra Dillon, “These events mark yet another step forward in Santa Monica's transformation into a thriving arts destination.”


Art at the Airport boasts a diverse collective of artists, each expressing themselves through a range of mediums. Alexandra Dillon's paintbrush portraits have garnered international media attention and a sizable following on Instagram. Founder Rebecca Youssef's art revolves around sustainability and environmental awareness, as her abstract collages are crafted on upcycled cardboard and discarded paper bags. Youssef draws inspiration from her reforestation efforts in the Santa Monica Mountains, and her work is in numerous private and corporate collections. Iranian-born artist Sheila Karbassian highlights her Iranian-American identity through vividly colored collages and actively participates in the #WomenLifeFreedom movement, advocating for women's rights in Iran. Ara Oshagan, whose artistic practice spans books, film, and photography, delves into the personal and collective history of the Armenian diaspora.


The Art at the Airport events play a crucial role in raising awareness about the art studios and creating a bridge between the artists and the local community. By inviting visitors to peek inside professional art studios, meet the artists personally, and even acquire artwork directly from them, these events provide a unique and intimate experience for art enthusiasts.

Through their dedication to revitalizing the artists' creative spirits and fostering a sense of community, Art at the Airport has become a driving force in Santa Monica's artistic landscape. With each event, the transformative power of art takes center stage, uniting artists and spectators alike in a celebration of creativity, expression, inspiration, and human connection.

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