More than 115 people crowded into the community room at the civic center last weekend, and even more were out walking around the park, all as part of the grand opening of the sculptures at the Civic Center Park.
“It’s a very exciting day for all of us,” said Arts Commissioner Caroline Logan said Saturday.
The sculptures at the civic park is a wonderful concept, she said.
“I am thrilled that they pursued it,” Logan commented. “It just makes sense. And here it is a reality.”
The 10 sculptures were chosen by a six-member panel from 260 submissions. The panel included arts commissioners, Arts Orange County members and other art professionals.
A notable absence from the event was the large sculpture named Red, after the red blood cell it is styled after. It was vandalized while being shown elsewhere. It is expected to be installed in November.
“They were carefully laid out because we wanted, at certain points, to be able to see more than just the sculpture they were looking at ” she explained. “Each with a completely different experience.”
Some of the sculptures are meant to be fun, while others are mean to be thought-provoking, Logan explained.
They range from a doily styled park bench to a steel origami bears playing on a utility box to an intricately pieced together sphere of stainless steel rods rolling down a grassy hill to a gigantic, colorful “pretty boy” watching over the civic center.
Some are serious and some are playful, agreed Arts Commissioner and chairman of the Sculptures in the Civic Center Park Committee, Robert Smith.
“As much as I loved the park before there was art in it, I like it a lot better now,” Smith said.
Several of the artists also attended the grand opening: Gerardo Hacer (Cub Triptych), Curt Brill (Brandi), David Buckingham (Pretty Boy), Ivan McLean (Sphere 112), Matt Babcock (Big Wet Dog).
The next set of 10 will be installed in August 2015.
“It will be a brand new experience for the people and visitors of Newport Beach,“ every two years, Logan said.
It will be a completely fresh and new celebration each time, she added.
The hope is to introduce new art every year, Smith said.
It is a “long term, really dynamic public art exhibit,” said Mayor Rush Hill.
The sculptures help make the civic center a place to gather, hang out and enjoy the community, he said.
The vision for this started about six years ago, said Mayor Pro Tem Ed Selich.
Selich went over a brief history of the project, which included a park that “people would actually use,” he said.
“I am so impressed with city leadership, that they embraced this vision,” said Arts OC Deputy Director Pat Wayne. “I think it’s a great match-up with what we know to be true about Newport beach, which is innovative and forward thinking.”
She encouraged the residents to attend the public forum on the master arts and cultural plan meeting.
“You can like it or you can love it or you can dislike it, but it certainly has already started conversations,” Hill said.
Selich also addressed some of the criticism the art has received.
“That’s what art is all about,” Selich said.
It’s meant to get people thinking and feeling and expand their horizons, he said. To get a response of some sort.
“The thing about art is people see it and… it causes people to think about things, causes them to talk, causes them to interact,” Smith agreed.
According to a poll conducted by the Indy on Saturday the crowd favorite was Pretty Boy.
“I’ve never made anything monumental like that before,” said Pretty Boy creator David Buckingham.
He wanted to create something “eye-catching,” and “cool and freaky,” and “inviting, yet frightening at the same time,” he said
“Kind of like myself,” he joked.
Working off of: “I can’t please everyone so might as well please myself,” and “I make it up as I go along,” and “All this is, is a series of problems to solve,” Buckingham’s creations are bound to be unique conversation starters.
He didn’t draw up any sketches or have much of a plan, he said, he just started building.
“That was the wrong way to do things,” he said.
But he worked it out and Pretty Boy was the result.
The New Orleans native now lives and works out of Los Angeles. Pretty Boy is made from 100 percent reclaimed steel from all over Southern California, still in the original colors. The hollow beach beast weighs about 500 pounds
“Pretty Boy can see the beach now,” Buckingham said. “I love it… I’m thrilled to be out here in Newport Beach.”
The master arts and culture plan meeting will be held Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Oasis Senior Center. RSVP is required by Sept. 21
To participate in the survey visit surveymonkey.com/s/NBArtsAndCulture