Newport Beach approves sculptures for summer exhibit after resident weigh-in

The Newport Beach City Council recently approved a new wave of sculptures to be installed this summer in Civic Center Park.

This is the seventh phase of the city’s sculpture exhibition, which began in 2013 after the completion of the Civic Center Park development. Pieces are loaned for periods of two years and carvers receive a small fee for loaning their work.

City staff are responsible for installing the artwork and the sculptors are responsible for repairs and maintenance.

“Essentially, the exhibit has become a ‘museum without walls’ that offers a temporary display of public art in a unique, naturalistic setting,” said a staff report prepared for the city council.

Richard Stein, president and CEO of Arts Orange County, said this was the first time the selection process for the sculptures’ final choices and rankings had been put to a vote by Newport Beach residents.

Pictured, “Where Have All The Birds Gone?” by Fairfax artist Marguerite Elliot.

(Courtesy of the City of Newport Beach)

The 10 sculptures and four alternatives were selected by the public. Submissions were first reviewed by a curatorial committee with professionals May Sun and Brian Peterson in December at the city’s Arts Commission meeting and evaluated on the basis of artistic merit, durability, their practicality and the relevance of the site.

A total of 25 were included in the survey launched to the public in December; the survey ended on January 10. The poll allowed residents to vote for three sculptures in total.

The top 10 results were those that ultimately had to be considered by the city’s arts commission and city council.

The 10 sculptures selected by the residents were: “A Novel Idea”, by Craig Gray; “Got Juice” by Stephen Landis; “The Archeology of the Everyday” by Tyler Burton; “David” by Miggy Buck; “Eve” by Joe Forrest Sackett; “Where have all the birds gone? by Marguerite Elliot; “Cross Section” by Tim DeShong; “Prey” by Lisa and Robert Ferguson; “Pluma Sculptura, aka ‘The Plume'” by Kirk Seese; and “Pathway Parabola” by Greg Mueller.

The four alternates were “To the Moon” by Alex G; “Integration” by Jaydon Sterling-Randall; “Calling the Four Winds” by Dennis-Redmoon Darkeem; and “Hoodoos” by Joan Benefiel.

No new display sites had to be created for this phase, Stein said.

“When you have all 20 on display, you’ll see it’s a very sturdy group of sculptures and I think it’s proven to be very popular with the public,” Stein said. “Not a day goes by that I come to the park without seeing families with children who are really intrigued by the works and who take an interest in them. Some, they don’t understand. Some are very obvious and delicious…it’s a very successful program.

Pictured is "I have juice" by Colorado artist Stephen Landis.

Pictured is “Got Juice” by Colorado artist Stephen Landis.

(Courtesy of the City of Newport Beach)

Councilor Diane Dixon asked if there was a way to garner more submissions from local artists and those living in Southern California. Stein jokingly suggested adding more funding for the exhibit – around $20,000 was donated by the Newport Beach Arts Foundation – but added that many sculptors work on a commission basis rather than having inventories. for the exhibition.

“There aren’t a lot of temporary sculpture exhibits either, so it’s not a huge market waiting for all these artists to submit,” Stein said.

Dixon said she still wanted to see what other structural improvements could be made, but acknowledged the constraints. Fellow board member Brad Avery noted that he was struck by the amount of effort that went into such a rotating exhibit.

“The pieces are complicated; they are valuable; they’re heavy and just the logistics…it means big things to the people of our city,” Avery said. “It adds a certain zest to our town hall site here and I’m really, really happy about it, frankly. I think this latest iteration is just outstanding.

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