Artist Jorg Dubin visits “Semper Memento,” Laguna Beach’s memorial to victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, every two or three weeks to dust off the public art work in Heisler Park.
The Dubin-designed sculpture consists of a pentagonal base holding two beams from the World Trade Center wreckage that frame a silver sphere meant to reflect those who come to pay their respects.
On Monday, Dubin discovered vandals had defaced the sculpture’s central stainless steel globe with scratches and gouges.
“When I walked up to the sphere and put my hands on it, I noticed the damage right away, but I have no way of judging what exactly transpired,” said Dubin, though to a casual observer the damage seemed insignificant.
Dubin speculated that someone had to hit the sphere rather hard judging by the depth and position of three indentations and several deep scratches. “It was more than one blow; it was an intentional act,” he said.
He declined to speculate upon the vandals’ motives. Moreover, he dismissed any connection to his performance art entry in this year’s “Never Forget” themed Patriot’s Day Parade, which took place nine days prior to the incident. Amid feel-good patriotic pomp, Dubin created a sobering and somewhat off-kilter reminder of another patriot, President John F. Kennedy, and his fateful motorcade ride in Dallas, flanked by two Jackie look-alikes and faux Secret Service men. Dubin served as the driver. “I don’t see any link between the parade and the vandalism. People have only told me how much fun they had watching us in the parade,” he said.
Winning the commission for “Semper Memento” generated critical acclaim and nomination as the parade’s artist of the year. He dismisses the notion that a personal motive elicited the damage.
“It’s public art and it’s out there unguarded 24/7 but I am still disheartened because as an American I have such a deep connection to Sept. 11, 2001, as do people from all over the world,” he said.
As for repairs, presently he can only suggest that the sculpture be dismantled and the dents be hammered out from the globe’s inside.
The girders came West through the efforts of a Laguna Beach firefighter and arts patron Mark Porterfield, who defrayed the $19,000 tab for the project. Dubin’s concept was selected last July from a pool of ten applicants.
Dubin reported the damage to the city’s arts manager Sian Poeschl. She called the incident isolated and could not guess the perpetrator’s motive. There are no previous vandalism records at the site, said police Lt. Jason Kravetz.
“The damage has been disappointing to me,” said Dubin. “But, you can’t discount human nature and I would not want to speculate on any ideological framework. It is disheartening but it does not disconnect me from the piece. I can’t agonize over it too much,” Dubin concluded.