The proposal presented by the arts commission of the pavilion art installation on Aug. 12 exposed a disconnect between the already designed and recently completed Village Entrance (VE) and a surprise proposal, an architectural feature that would require removal of some of the VE park. Marc Fornes Skyped in from France and described his project—a five-tented aluminum structure of highly colorful and shiny tiles, undulating above and casting shadows below—a beguiling form he has produced in multiple cities around the world in varying shapes, sizes, and colors. However, he struggled to articulate how this particular structure was unique for Laguna Beach. He stated that Instagram selfies assure him that his existing installations are a success, but this is a strange indicator of longevity.
Why the arts commission felt an international designer was the best choice for a local art installation is troubling. Surely there is a local artist/group or at least a California-based artist who could honor our history, culture, and natural environment. Why didn’t the VE landscape design include a specific area for a public art installation? A more radical yet practical solution would be to restore and repurpose the already existing and interestingly designed digester building. It would honor our town’s history, and possibly provide a much-needed self-contained performance/workshop space for intimate settings. It would be unique to our town. What we don’t need is a cookie cutter design of fabricated work, produced with absolutely no natural elements.
Public art can be very beneficial to residents and tourists alike if done appropriately. A simple idea is to annually commission a California-based artist to construct a temporary and appropriately sized artwork to be on display at the VE park, promoting and helping to support our local artists. Every year a new artwork would be unveiled creating a new opportunity with every arts season. Imagine several native sycamore trees providing natural shade and subtle calm in the busy intersection of activity, rather than an artificial structure. Trees will require water, but so will the maintenance and cleaning of a large scale, metal, and permanent installation in our saline marine layer environment for many, many years to come. In 20 years, I’d rather be enjoying the beauty of mature native trees than a shiny object without any relevance to our town.
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