By Allison Jarrell
Amid some backlash from the community, the Laguna Beach Arts Commission is slated to potentially recommend approval of an art installation proposal for the Village Entrance at its meeting on Monday, Aug. 26.
The commission initially reviewed the Art in Public Places proposal at its Aug. 12 meeting. Internationally renowned artist Marc Fornes, who was retained by the city in March to develop a proposal, Skyped in to present his multi-lobed sculpture created of aluminum. The pavilion would measure 69 feet in length, 47 feet in depth and 33 feet in height. The proposal included examples of how the site can be activated as an outdoor plaza with opportunities for cultural events and community gatherings.
The vote on Monday will determine whether the commission recommends approval of the design to the City Council. If approved by the commission, the Council will review the proposal at its meeting on Sept. 24. At that time, Fornes would present the proposal in person.
If the design is approved, Fornes would develop engineering drawings, site adjustments and a budget. Fornes and city staff would also work closely with the Public Works Department and obtain any additional permits or reviews needed.
Fornes’ design studio has created a number of thin-shell pavilions in other communities that address site limitations through “creative form, structure and space.”
“His primary focus as an artist is enhancing the visual identity of a place and creating a place where the community can engage,” city staff wrote in an agenda report. “As part of the dialogue and prior to committing an interest in the project, the artist visited the site and spent time in the community.”
Residents and some local organizations, such as the Laguna Canyon Conservancy, were outspoken at the Aug. 12 meeting and have since written letters to the city and the Indy opposing the pavilion design and its size and location within the Village Entrance, and requesting that other alternatives be considered for the site.
Landscape architect Bob Borthwick, who has served on several city-appointed committees and task groups, presented his concerns at the meeting, backing other opinions that the site should be “subtle and natural” and a “balance for the art festivals.”
“I am concerned, as a resident, that this pavilions proposal will tip the scales toward site overdevelopment in this important location,” Borthwick said. “With the funds that would be saved by not building the art pavilions as proposed, I urge the Commission to strongly consider using your funding to create a permanent and vibrant multi-use art venue for gatherings, poetry readings, classes, workshops, etc. in the re-purposed historic digester building, which is ready and waiting for restoration authorization. This could be the Canyon counterpart to the Lifeguard Tower and become a new icon for our town.”
The Monday meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 505 Forest Avenue. For more information, contact cultural arts manager Sian Poeschl at [email protected]
For more information on the Village Entrance Project, visit lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/pw/village_entrance_project.