Grand Opening of the Next Phase of Sculptures

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After a few changes this week, the sculptures recommended to City Council for Phase IV of the exhibition are (in no particular order): (top row, left to right) “Spy Boy” by David Buckingham, “Hurricane” by Ray Katz, “The Tot” by Richard Becker, and “Windswept” by Lake Daffner; and (bottom row, left to right) “START Now” by Scott Froschauer, “Contender” by John Merigian, “Feathers in the Wind” by Alex G., “Chairman of the Board” by Steven Rieman, “Slices of Heaven” by Craig Gray, and “Pinnacle” by Stephanie Bachiero.
— Photos courtesy of individual artists and city of Newport Beach

Oversized orange slices, an abstract kinetic surfer, a trio of angelic, metallic figures, and more will be on display during a special event this weekend.

Phase IV of the city’s rotating sculpture exhibition at the Newport Beach Civic Center Park will be officially unveiled during a grand opening event and dedication ceremony on Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m.

The committee hosting the event includes City Arts Commission Chair Arlene Greer and Arts Commissioners Marie Little and Barbara Glabman.

“We’re very excited about it,” City Arts Commission chair Arlene Greer said during a phone interview this week.

The dedication ceremony will start at 1:30 p.m. in Council Chambers and will feature Arts Commissioners, Mayor Diane Dixon, City Council members, Arts OC officials, many of the phase IV artists, Newport Beach Arts Foundation members, and other honored guests.

Organizers are expecting a large number of people at the opening, but for those unable to attend on Saturday, the Phase IV sculptures will call the Civic Center Park home for two years.

“The sculpture exhibition is a museum without walls and it’s available at any time of day,” any day of the week, all year long, Greer said. “We encourage you to visit the exhibition to enjoy the sculptures and experience them during different times of day and different seasons… Every time you visit the sculpture garden you may see something new (due to the sun, light and shadows, seasons, etc.).”

Following the dedication, guests will have the opportunity to meet the artists and take a tour of the sculpture exhibition in Civic Center Park. Some artists will be available for questions near their sculptures.

A reception will be held in the community room at the Civic Center, where guests can enjoy a no host bar with margaritas, sangria, beer, and wine, as well as chips and salsa, and music by local flamenco guitarist James Samimi. Young visitors can have fun with supervised activities, and enjoy popcorn, lemonade and a dessert truck. Admission to the event and parking are free.

The ten new sculptures were selected from submissions received by a national call for entries based on their artistic merit, durability, practicality and site appropriateness.

Phase IV sculptures are: “Slices of Heaven” by Craig Gray, “Contender” by John Merigian, “Windswept” by Lake Daffner, “Hurricane” by Ray Katz, “Chairman of the Board” by Steven Rieman, “The Tot” by Richard Becker, “Spy Boy” by David Buckingham, “Feathers in the Wind” by Alex G., “START Now” by Scott Froschauer, and “Pinnacle” by Stephanie Bachiero.

All but one sculpture have been installed. Details about the installation of “Pinnacle” are still being worked out, city officials explained.

A maquette of “Pinnacle” will be on display on the patio in front of the Civic Center Community Room during the grand opening event, Library Services Director Tim Hetherton confirmed in an email Thursday. The actual piece will be refabricated from a more durable material for outdoor display, and installed in the park later in the summer, he explained.

Arts Orange County coordinated and managed the sculpture review and selection process and installation.

The City Arts Commission held a special study session March 9 to review submissions for phase IV of the sculpture exhibition. Also weighing in was a curatorial panel of experts: Dave Barton, an art critic for OC Weekly, and Jeffrey Frisch, the Arts Program Coordinator for the John Wayne Airport Arts Program. They provided feedback to Richard Stein of Arts Orange County and Professor Joe Lewis of University of California Irvine, who presented each work of art.

After further review and a few changes, City Council unanimously approved the Phase IV sculptures, as recommended by the Arts Commission, during a meeting on April 9.

“Slices of Heaven,” a 9-foot tall, steel and stucco set of four oversized orange slices stacked at angles on top of each other from Florida artist Craig Gray, was the popular choice in the public survey conducted in March.

“Slices of Heaven” by Craig Gray has been installed in Newport Beach Civic Center Park for Phase IV of the rotating sculpture exhibition.
— Courtesy city of Newport Beach

Gray also created “Popsicles,” a set of colorful, giant frozen treats stacked on top of each other, that received the most votes in last year’s public poll.

During the Arts Commissioner’s review of phase IV sculptures, several pointed out that “Slices of Heaven” is a fun way to pay homage to Orange County.

The sculpture provides a pop of vibrant color and is a visual representation of the history and culture of Orange County, Greer said this week.

The orange slices seem to be custom designed to bask in the California sun, she commented.

“Contender” is a 13-foot tall, slender rust-colored, welded corten (or weathered steel) sculpture, created by Kansas-based artist John Merigian. He also created “Be Still and Know” in phase III. “Contender” is located in the same spot in the park.

“Contender” is giving a joyful nod as he looks to the sky. The larger than life figure appears to be in mid-stride.

“He’s striking a pose, like he’s about to stroll to the park,” Greer said.

It provides inspiration at any hour of the day, Greer commented.

“Windswept” (formerly referred to as “polished stainless steel sculptures”) is a set of three reflective metallic abstract figures by Las Vegas artist Lake Daffner.

It really stood out and was very popular in the public survey, Greer noted.

The “dazzling trio” have been placed at the top of the stairs near the entrance to the park.

“As you ascend the stairs you’ll be greeted by ‘Windswept,’” of three angelic forms, Greer said.

“Hurricane,” a large, 200-pound, 16-foot wide and 9.5-foot tall, brushed aluminum complex mixture of intertwining posts and circles by another returning artist, Ray Katz of Pontiac, Mich.

Katz’s sculpture stirs up energy in an abstract form, Greer commented.

“You feel the angles and the relationship between the pieces,” Greer commented. “It’s truly a work of art.”

It represents the power of nature, which is an important message considering the natural disasters that occurred across the country during the past year.

“We’ve been very fortunate that we haven’t faced the devastation (locally),” Greer noted, and this sculpture “reminds people of the impact (of nature).”

“Chairman of the Board” is a kinetic nonrepresentational surfer with moveable “arms” leaning forward off a curved board.

Created by Steven Rieman of Yucca Valley, the sculpture depicts a dual state of both wildness and balance. It also represents the delicate relationship between technology and environment.

“It’s a beautiful piece,” Greer said, “very intricate and interesting.”

“The Tot,” a 36-inch tall, stainless steel representational sculpture of a tiny toddler in swim trunks and goggles, was created by San Diego artist Richard Becker.

A popular choice among Arts Commissioners and the expert panelists, “The Tot” looks like he’s ready to jump in water.

“He’s an instant delight for anyone viewing it,” Greer said.

Possibly influenced by the steampunk movement and slightly cartoonish in appearance, “The Tot” is charming, fun and relatable.

Becker’s work has also been featured at a monument to prisoners of war at the national cemetery the POW Monument at the US National Cemetery and the Oceanside Museum of Art.

“Spy Boy,” a 6-foot tall sculpture made from colorful found scrap steel, is by another returning artist, David Buckingham.

Based out of Los Angeles, Buckingham also created the 11-foot tall “Pretty Boy” sculpture that was installed during the first phase.

Like Buckingham’s previous sculpture in the park, “Spy Boy” will likely be popular with the younger crowd, Greer noted.

“Spy Boy” is installed near the entrance to the dog park on Avocado Avenue.

“You can’t miss him,” Greer said. “It looks like he’s walking to the dog park.”

“Feathers in the Wind,” a kinetic, powder coated steel sculpture with blue feathers circling a 10-foot pole by San Diego artist Alex G.

The circling feathers are receptive to the ocean air and breeze, Greer pointed out.

“It works well in our coastal community,” she said.

The piece takes viewers back to the cultural past, representing Native American heritage.

“START Now,” a 10-foot reflective sign shaped like a traditional stop sign by Los Angeles-based artist Scott Froschauer, was another popular choice in the public survey.

Froschauer, a veteran artist of the Smithsonian and Burning Man, is also a linguist. “START Now” is a meaningful word of instruction for everyone, Greer noted.

“Pinnacle” is an abstract sculpture made from engineered aerospace composite polymer reinforced with carbon fiber and finished with automotive lacquer.

Created by Laguna Beach artist Stephanie Bachiero, the 150-pound sculpture displays flowing porcelain curves that convey both power and grace, Greer said.

It will be installed in the lower end of the garden, near the entrance to the Civic Center Drive.

Phase V of the exhibition will kick off sometime next year, pending City Council approval.

For more information, visit and click “Sculpture Exhibition” or contact the Cultural Arts Services Office at (949) 717-3802.

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