Revisions to Top 10 Sculptures Recommended for Exhibition

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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

A few changes were made to the recommended artworks for the next phase of the rotating sculpture exhibition following a special meeting this week.

City Arts Commission reconsidered four submissions and ultimately approved two changes during a special meeting Monday.

Commissioners reviewed “Delilah” and “Mule Deer,” in terms of practicality and whether or not they are appropriate for the city’s exhibition, as well as “Pinnacle,” and “Windswept” (formerly referred to as “Polished stainless steel sculptures”), since staff received new information after the March 21 vote for recommendation.

“Delilah” sculpture by Benjamin Victor was removed from the Commission’s recommendations.
— Photo courtesy the artist and city of Newport Beach

Staff asked the Commission to reevaluate “Delilah,” a life-sized figure of the biblical seductress of the same name, and “determine if it is suitable for all ages,” according to the staff report, written up by Library Services Director Tim Hetherton.

“This is a common criterion for public art exhibitions,” Hetherton wrote.

The piece, created by artist Benjamin Victor, is a representational sculpture of a young woman. She is clad in a small skirt, tied up on one hip, and a top of wrapped cloth. Her eyes are closed “in self-satisfaction” with her “perfidy,” the artist describes on his website. She is holding two bags of coins behind her head.

When Commissioners considered the sculpture at the March 9 study session, there was some concern about its appropriateness.

Commissioner Miriam Baker called the piece “wonderful,” but that it might be controversial. It’s nothing different than what people wear to the beach, she added. Others agreed that they liked the sculpture, but wanted to be sure the choices were suitable for the audience at the Civic Center Park.

On Monday, the Commission also reassessed “Mule Deer,” a large representational sculpture of the animal, which includes some sizeable antlers. The bronze, 500-pound piece was created by artist Michael Boyce.

Staff asked the Commission to “determine if it exhibits unsafe conditions.” Hetherton explained in the staff report that there were some concerns about the artwork having “piercing hazards.”

“Mule Deer” by Michael Boyce was removed from the Commission’s recommendations.
— Photo courtesy the artist and city of Newport Beach

Ultimately, commissioners decided to replace “Delilah” and “Mule Deer” in their recommendation to City Council with “Contender” and “START Now.”

“Contender” is a 13-foot tall, slender rust-colored, welded corten (or weathered steel) sculpture, from the same artist as “Be Still and Know” in phase III. Kansas-based John Merigian’s “Contender” was a favorite option among Commissioners, panelists and residents during the March 9 study session.

“I love this work,” Commission Chair Arlene Greer said at the time.

The previous “Be Still and Know” was popular with the public, she added.

Longtime local resident Bobbie Blinder said she loved the mid-stride movement of the piece.

Los Angeles-based artist Scott Froschauer created the reflective sign, “START Now,” shaped like a traditional stop sign. The 10-foot, stainless steel sculpture is part of Froschauer’s “The Word on The Street” collection.

“By using the materials and visual language of street signs, but replacing the traditional negative wording (Stop, Do Not Enter, Wrong Way…) with positive affirmations, ‘The Word on the Street’ seeks to provide something that is missing from our daily visual diet,” Froschauer wrote on his website.

During the March 9 study session, Commissioners and expert panelists had mixed opinions about the mirrored “START” sign, some said it wasn’t interesting, others called it a “strong” and “inspiring” piece.

These changes were recommended to City Council. The staff report will likely be in the April agenda packet.

On Monday, the Commission also reconsidered Laguna Beach artist Stephanie Bachiero’s “Pinnacle” because the city consultant learned it’s much smaller than it was listed as in the original presentation.

In the artist submitted entry, “Pinnacle” was labeled as about 7 feet tall, which is how it was described to the Commission when they voted to recommend it on March 21.

“The artist contact initially insisted that this height was correct, but recently verified that the piece is indeed smaller,” Hetherton wrote in the staff report.

The artwork, which is made of engineered aerospace composite polymer reinforced with carbon fiber and finished with automotive lacquer, is actually about half the size at 36” H x 42” W x 37” D.

“The City Arts Commission should have the opportunity to reconsider the piece based on this information,” Hetherton noted in the report.

Ultimately, the Commission decided to retain their recommendation of “Pinnacle.”

Also on Monday, the Commission re-evaluated “Windswept” (formerly referred to as “polished stainless steel sculptures”), since staff recently received new information regarding the artwork.

Las Vegas artist Lake Daffner submitted several photos of a set of four reflective metallic abstract figures. But in contacting the artist, Arts Orange County was informed that Daffner was only offering a set of three pieces, rather than the four submitted and considered for recommendation by the Commission.

“The Commission should reconsider the selection of this work if the artist is providing one less figure,” Hetherton concluded in the staff report.

Commissioners ultimately voted to keep their recommendation of “Windswept” intact.

The Commission is also recommending: “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; “Hurricane,” a large, 200-pound, 16-foot wide and 9.5-foot tall, brushed aluminum complex mixture of intertwining posts and circles by Ray Katz of Pontiac, Mich.; “Chairman of the Board,” a kinetic nonrepresentational surfer with moveable “arms” leaning forward off a curved board; “The Tot,” a 36-inch tall, stainless steel representational sculpture of a tiny toddler in swim trunks and goggles by San Diego artist Richard Becker; “Spy Boy,” a 6-foot tall sculpture made from colorful found scrap steel by Los Angeles artist David Buckingham; and “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 recommended alternates are: “Exposed,” a 42-inch tall delicate and intricate stainless steel leaf, standing on its end by Kathy Taslitz; “Fallen Sky,” a large, blue abstract piece with apparent footholds to encourage climbing by Coral Lambert; and “Hope Springs Eternal,” an aluminum and plexiglass sculpture with colorful butterflies by Grant Bathke.

The recommended alternates are (left to right) “Exposed” by Kathy Taslitz; “Fallen Sky” by Coral Lambert; and “Hope Springs Eternal” by Grant Bathke.
— Photos courtesy of individual artists and city of Newport Beach
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