— All photos by Sara Hall ©
The new Sculpture Exhibition in Civic Center Park officially opened Saturday. A short program commemorating the third phase of the city’s sculpture rotation was held in council chambers.
“It’s always an adventure with each new phase,” said Richard Stein of Arts Orange County.
By opening the process up to the community this year for input through the poll and several public meetings, it showed how enthusiastic the community it for the program, Stein said.
“It shows the leadership of the city that this is something that is embraced by their residents and a program worthy of city support,” Stein said.
The sculptures are great choices to be displayed in the Civic Center Park, said Mayor Kevin Muldoon during his remarks at the ceremony.
“The third phase is a charm,” Muldoon said.
After talking with a few of the artists on hand, Muldoon observed that there was a sense of mutual pride, for the artists to be showcased in Newport Beach and for the city to have such great work on display.
This phase sculptures include: Flight by Steven Rieman, Be Still and Know by John Merigian, Cosmic Glints by Patricia Vader, Getting Your Bearings by David Boyer, Cultural Pedestrians by Sue Quinlan, Life is a Balancing Act by Cindy Debold, Burnt Matchstick by Karl Unnasch, Popsicles by Craig Gray, No Swimming by Oleg Lobykin.
Art can sometimes be controversial and this new batch of sculptures is no different.
“Everyone has a different about the artwork that bring here and I think that’s what makes it great,” Muldoon said. “We should allow that sort of conversation.”
Out of 30 people informally surveyed by the Indy at the event, Balancing Act was the favorite with 11 votes. Getting Your Bearings came in a close second with seven votes, Burnt Matchstick gathered five, and Flight earned four. The other sculptures all received one vote each and one person added that her favorite were the bunnies.
Visitors wandered around the 14-acre Newport Beach Civic Center Park to view the newest additions. Guests who used the MyNB app were able to digitally tour the sculpture park and learn information about each piece.
“The sculpture garden is a museum without windows or walls,” said Arts Commission Vice Chair Arlene Greer.
Several of the artists whose works were on display were also on hand at the event.
It’s been a wonderful welcome, almost like royalty, by the city and residents of Newport Beach, said Boyer, one of the featured artists.
It’s a great setting for art, he noted
“The sculpture garden here is amazing,” he said. “It’s a beautiful landscape.”
His piece, Getting Your Bearings, is a large kinetic wind sculpture and sits atop the first small hill to the north of the civic center.
The wind flows through the open space where his sculpture is placed.
Walking up to the sculpture from below offers a view of sky surrounding the art. The path meanders below it, helping build the anticipation, he noted.
“It’s really the perfect place for it,” Boyer said.
It was originally built in 2014 for the Burning Man festival.
Boyer, a Nevada resident, is inspired by the desert and mountains. Getting Your Bearings is reminiscent of an antique with an “almost steam punk flavor,” Boyer said.
Rusted steel pieces make a tree-like trunk and branches, with stainless steel paddle wheels spinning on top.
“It’s kind of like my homage to the old artifacts you would find out in some of the old ghost towns or the old mining camps in the western United States,” Boyer said.
There were two missing pieces at Saturday’s event.
Popsicles was delayed due to Hurricane Irma’s impact in the Florida Keys, where the artist resides. It arrived in Newport Beach on Tuesday, although slightly damaged from shipping. The artist is expected to be in town in about two weeks to make touch ups and repairs.
No Swimming, a large metallic shark fin, is scheduled to go in on Nov. 13 after the artist finishes resurfacing the sculpture.
This phase of the sculpture exhibition will run until Summer 2019.