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Commission Awards Art Project, Hears From a Critic

Sculptor and installation artist Kyungmi Shin, working in partnership with photographer Todd Gray, was selected to create a public art project for the Ocean Avenue and Beach Street .

Sculptor and installation artist Kyungmi Shin, working in partnership with photographer Todd Gray, was selected to create a public art project for the Ocean Avenue and Beach Street .

In a divided vote, the city’s Arts Commission selected Los Angeles’ Shin Gray Studios as the winner of a public bench and mural commission at its meeting on Monday, where a local artist also criticized the commission for its “insulting” compensation for artist proposals.

Sculptor and installation artist Kyungmi Shin, working in partnership with photographer Todd Gray, was selected to create a public art project for the Ocean Avenue and Beach Street intersection that calls for seating and adding one or more murals to an existing planter.

Altogether 23 artists-designers applied for the $45,000 award. Shin Gray Studios won out over two finalists, local ceramicist-sculptor Marlo Bartels and Los Angeles’ Urban Rock, represented by designers Jeanine Centuori and Russel Rock.

The commission split evenly, with four votes each favoring Bartels and Shin Gray. Pat Kollenda’s vote for Shin Gray provided the tiebreaker.

Shin Gray agreed to reduce its proposed bench capacity so as not to crowd the sidewalk and retain disability access as well as other minor changes. The commission’s recommendation still need the approval of the City Council, scheduled for May 20.

Shin’s project incorporated pod-like seating of concrete and glass mosaics, along with a sloping planter to provide more seating and circular resin shade elements containing images of sea flora mounted on stainless steel poles.

Bartels’ model created a plaza like effect replete with his signature obelisk. Urban Rock’s design recalled a watercolor paintbox.

Local artist Jorg Dubin, present at the meeting representing another public art project pending commission approval, took the opportunity to air his grievances with the panel’s practices for awarding public art commissions.

He requested that his criticisms, lodged with the city’s cultural arts manager, Sian Poeschl, (and described in an April 25 letter to the editor) be added to the next commission agenda for discussion.

Dubin, a veteran of several local public art commissions, criticized the commission’s public art selection process and the paltry remuneration of $300 that project finalists receive for their concepts, presentations and models.

As the issue was not on the agenda, commission members did not respond.

In addition, Hobie Surf Shop co-owner Mark Christy spoke in support of a memorial to surf icon Hobie Alter. He argued that initial discussions about possible memorial sites in Laguna Canyon and Brooks Street were less appropriate than Oak Street Beach, near the family home where Alter started re-envisioning surfboards and sailboats. “The Hobie Cat was drawn in the sand there,” Christy said, also expressing interest in a Hobie Alter park.

Commission members expressed support for a memorial, but put off making any decisions.

Due to appreciation in the art market, the commission voted to pay appraiser Deborah Solon to appraise City Hall’s art collection $2,500.

 

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