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Community and Cultural Services

Camera Obscura Art Lab at 1450 Ocean

 Make & Move at Palisades Park

The Camera Obscura Art Lab at 1450 Ocean is a hive of activity, where adults of all ages can roll up their sleeves and dive into hands-on crafts, art, and cultural programs. Learn to make a mosaic tabletop, paint a landscape, knit a market bag, practice salsa moves, learn to take better photos, and much more. There's always something new at the Camera!

TimWatercolor Enameling on Silver Sewing at Repair Cafe
Timothy Kitz's Watercolor class 
Enameling on Silver with Sharon Kaplan
Sewing at the Repair Cafe

Shannon Freshwater ShannonFIllustration  
Shannon Freshwater Illustration by Shannon Freshwater, created for 
The Baffler, Art Director Patrick Flynn, 2016

Shannon Freshwater

Residency: August 9 - November 15, 2017
Workshops on Saturdays from 11am-1pm
Final Presentation: Saturday, November 11, 2017 RSVP

Shannon Freshwater will utilize her time at the Camera to create a collection of 2D and 3D sculpture and costume that incorporate discarded toys, jewelry, blankets, and other items from local thrift stores to depict strong warrior women characters. Through the use of folk art and crafts techniques that could be classified as traditional “woman’s crafts” such as bead work and weaving, she explores the ideas of transformation, self-empowerment, and upending power dynamics. Her weekly public activities cover the practice of image-making from abstraction to illustration. Take a look at some video of Shannon talking about her process here.

Shannon Freshwater is an illustrator and fine artist who uses collage and assemblage as a way to appropriate and re-contextualize imagery and ideas. Shannon finds inspiration in the mysterious and unknown, as well as pop culture and various sub cultures. She grew up in the bizarre landscape of Las Vegas, studied painting and film in New Mexico, and lived in a collaborative art community in Seattle before moving to Southern California in 2005. Shannon is a graduate of Art Center College of Design, where she now teaches in the illustration department as well as teaching in the art department at California State University Northridge. Her illustrations have appeared on various book covers as well as The New York Times, Le Monde, Scientific American and others. She has exhibited her work across the US and her book covers are included in the permanent collection of AIGA in New York.

The Camera Obscura Studio Artist Residency program connects the public with artists and artisans working within and between the worlds of fine art and craft. Artists-in-residence share their work with the public informally and through workshops and master classes. If you're an artist interested in receiving alerts about this program and other opportunities with the City of Santa Monica's Cultural Affairs Division, join the Artist Opportunity email list. Current Calls For Proposals

Free Craft Lounge

Every 2nd Saturday, 11am - 2pm
 Craft Lounge  Craft Lounge 2

Have a project you've been meaning to finish? Need help getting it done? Drop by the Free Craft Lounge every 2nd Saturday, where everyone's welcome to bring a craft project and work in the company of others... with an ocean view. Sewing machines, supplies, and other tools are available for use. Swap your expertise with others. Local artists and crafters often drop by to lead mini-workshops.

About the Art Lab and Camera Obscura

1450 Exterior

Vintage Camera Obscura  

Step inside the Camera Obscura Art Lab and you'll find a welcoming space with fantastic views of Santa Monica Bay and the Pier. The Camera is located in a midcentury time capsule in Palisades Park between Broadway and Santa Monica Blvd on what was once the site of the Pacific Electric Railway's North Beach Station. Designed by noted architect Weldon J. Fulton (who's work can be found around town including the classic Camera Obscura sign and font, the Montana and Fairview branch libraries, and the former Zucky's building on Wilshire Blvd), the building's exterior features walls clad in chunky Palos Verdes stone, glass walls, sloping roofs, and projecting canopies and rafter beams. It was donated to the City of Santa Monica by Marcellus Joslyn in 1955.

Attached to the Art Lab you can step into the body of a camera - Santa Monica's vintage Camera Obscura is a little like an analog webcam, with a periscope and a white screen in a darkened room. Mirrors reflect images from 360 degrees, with the image guided by an old-timey captains wheel. Originally located on the beach, the Camera Obscura was built in 1898 by Robert F. Jones, nephew of Santa Monica city founder Senator John P. Jones.

The Camera Obscura is free to visit and open M-F 9am - 3pm & Saturday 11am - 4pm. 

Contact Us

  • Email:
  • Phone: 310-458-2239
  • In Person: Drop by 1450 Ocean Ave, just north of the Pier entrance and Broadway
  • View and Register for classes here.
  • Join our email list to receive updates every 2-4 weeks. 
  • Like us at & tell your friends!

Getting Here

Note that we are just north of Broadway, as is Parking Structure 6... those pesky GPS devices can sometimes get confused!

Train: Expo terminus at 4th St/Colorado, 4 blocks away. Upon exiting the station go west on Colorado to Ocean Ave, cross the street to the Pier and turn right. We're in Palisades Park just past Broadway.

Parking (info: 

Bus: check Big Blue Bus and Metro.

Bike: Ride your bike (bring a lock) or utilize the Breeze Bike Share corral just south of us in the park.

Class Registration & The Fine Print

There are several convenient ways to sign up for a class at the Camera:   

  • OnlineCreate an account to make a payment by credit card 

  • In Person: Stop by to pre-register for a class. We are open Monday - Friday 9am-3pm and Saturday 11am-4pm. Cash, check, or credit card accepted. Proof of Santa Monica residency may be required for discounts where applicable.

  • By MailSend your completed registration form to Community Classes Registration, 1450 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401 

  • Drop-ins: Drop-ins are welcome if space is available. Call 310-458-2239 by the Tuesday before to see if space is available. Arrive at least 15 minutes before the class starts with cash to pay for any materials fee (class fees are payable by cash/check/credit card.) Note: Some classes do not proceed without a minimum enrollment and some reach capacity; call ahead to let us know you're coming and how to get in touch with you if there are any changes. Programs are subject to cancellation if minimum enrollment is not met.

  • Refunds/Transfers: Full refunds are given if class is cancelled before taking place - enroll online with confidence. For student withdrawals, there is $15 processing fee for each multisession activity refunded; one-time classes & expended material fees are nonrefundable. Requests must be made in person, by mail, fax (310-899-0840), or email to within 24 hours of first class meeting. All class dates, times, locations, and instructors are subject to change. Requests must be made in person, by mail, or email to

Enrollment questions? Call the Community Classes Office at 310-458-2239 or email


Pano interior


Camera Obscura Art Lab
1450 Ocean Ave.
Palisades Park
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Ph: 310.458.2239 

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