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Westside Watch

It Won't Be a Banner Year for Santa

November 20, 1994

Santa is out. Modern art is in.

That's the word in the Santa Monica business district, where lampposts will be decorated Tuesday with 225 brilliantly colored holiday banners and five overhead street scrolls created by a team of artists and art students led by Laddie John Dill.

The rotund man in red and his tiny reindeer, it seems, have been eclipsed by "original art." Being touted as a "gallery without walls," the holiday decor will include "not the typical 'Happy Holiday' scenarios," according to Dill, who directed the team of 15 local artists and 23 students in creating the banners.

The banners range from "the pure abstract to those depicting the human condition and inner dilemmas common during the holidays," said Dill, who is chairman of visual arts at the Santa Monica College of Design, Art and Architecture.

The works, titled "Joy," "Peace" and "Friends," were created as part of the city's Holiday Decor Project, which was initiated by representatives of Santa Monica's business district.

Maria Luisa de Herrera, the city's cultural affairs administrator, said Santa Monica "boasts the highest concentration of artists, art galleries and cultural activities per capita west of New York. The project helps showcase on a professional level our community artists."

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PHANTOM MANAGER: Police call it the "Bust-Out" scam. A tenant poses as a building manager, leases an apartment to multiple renters, then flees with the ill-gotten deposits.

But the Bust-Out scam was a bust for one would-be con artist in Beverly Hills, police say.

On Nov. 2, a woman using the last name Scott rented a two-bedroom apartment in the 400 block of South Maple Drive, Beverly Hills police said. She gave the building's manager $1,750 for the rent and deposit.

The next day, the manager found a note pinned to her front door from a woman named Gloria who wanted to rent the same apartment Ms. Scott had leased. The note was addressed to Shayna Hicks. The surprised manager called Gloria to say that her name was not Shayna Hicks and that the apartment in question already had been rented.

After comparing notes, Gloria and the manager decided that Ms. Scott and Shayna Hicks--who had represented herself to Gloria as the building's manager--were one and the same.

The manager called Beverly Hills police, who staked out the apartment, shooing away several people who had come to answer an apartment rental ad placed in the newspaper by Shayna Hicks.

That evening, Scott a.k.a. Hicks showed up to meet would-be renters. She was met, instead, by police.

Christine Rice, 19, of Culver City was arrested on suspicion of grand theft and theft by false pretenses, and was discovered to have a loaded gun in her car, earning her the additional charge of carrying a concealed weapon in a motor vehicle, police said.

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