Sculpture Reveals 100 Years of Newport Beach History

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By Lila Crespin, Ph.D. │ Newport Beach Arts Foundation

Artist David Kaminsky’s sculpture at McFadden Square.
Artist Hank Kaminsky’s sculpture at McFadden Square.

If you created an artwork and wanted to show a special kind of world, what shape would you use?  If “a sphere” came to mind, you have chosen a popular shape that speaks “world globe.”

It is most likely why artist Hank Kaminsky used a sphere to show our Newport Beach world both past and present in his sculpture at McFadden Square. If you have not seen it, visit McFadden Square at the beginning of Newport Pier and you will have a interesting trip through the history of our beautiful city.

Many small signs lead you to the city’s pier and to McFadden Square. There is public parking all around the area but be forewarned, it is a popular place for locals and for visitors. Once you’re there, walk up to the sculpture and try to discover all of the figures and places that Kaminsky has placed in bas relief on our city’s sphere.

You will discover historical representations of famous sites and of famous people who once lived or visited here.  The famous and the infamous are recognized — John Wayne is portrayed and so are the noisy seagulls and sea lions that love our environs. If you don’t recognize all of the images shown, Kaminsky gives names, places and some brief data to help the viewer out.

As part of the Newport Beach Centennial in 2006, McFadden Square was totally revitalized.  The artist and landscape architect responsible for the revitalization weren’t free to create as they chose. They were given “the History of Newport Beach” as the theme and they had to create to that concept.

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We’ve already examined how Kaminsky used the theme. The landscape architect, Ray Price of Peridian International, realized it in the spiral walk that leads to the center-placed sculpture. The plaza’s spiral is virtually an entertaining walk through Newport’s history lane. Start at the beginning, and as you follow the spiral, our city’s history unfolds at your feet. You read the intaglio printing in each stepping-stone, and each contains a little gem of our past.

I found out that silent-era movie stars Douglas Fairbanks and wife Mary Pickford came down to Newport in 1928 to dedicate the opening of PCH to Laguna Beach! What fun to think back at what “glamorous” Newport Beach looked like then.

Want to know how much our population has grown from 1980 to the year of our Centennial?  Find out by treading down our historical path and doing basic arithmetic.

Here’s a truism that is pertinent when viewing any art that you encounter: art defines the time and culture in which it is made. Both Kaminsky’s art piece and Price’s landscaping also define the place.

If you would like to contact the artist his web address is www.hankkaminsky.com. Send him your impression of his work; artists appreciate hearing from their viewers. If you like knowing about the art in our city, please contact me at the email below.  Columnists like to hear from readers as well.

 

The mission of the Newport Beach Arts Foundation is to promote and broaden cultural activities in the community as the fund-raising organization of the Newport Beach Arts Commission.  We welcome new members.  If you are interested in joining, please contact Lila Crespin at [email protected]

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