By Rachel Katz, Special to the Independent
An octopus sculpture and bronze bench now perch in Heisler Park overlooking Diver’s Cove.
Casey Parlette, an ocean adventurer and marine artist, created the new public artworks for the city of Laguna Beach. Forming it around a rock, Parlette manufactured a metal octopus and then also welded a metal bench with a backrest that resembles a strand of kelp. Both works drew admiring praise from people who attended the dedication of the two sculptures this past Monday, June 19.
Parlette, who also works as a city lifeguard, said seeing octopi swimming in tide pools always intrigues him. The marine habitat provided the inspiration for his creation and the name for his octopus masterpiece, “Tide Pool Kraken.”
“It’s been a real fun process, putting these pieces together for the people of Laguna Beach,” said Parlette.
As for the bench, “Strand of Life,” Parlette said he wanted it to “capture the spirit of adventure and life’s many gifts.” He aimed for a work that could be appreciated by the town’s residents as well as its underwriters. “This sculpture connects family members from past, present, and future generations,” said Parlette in a statement.
Two Laguna Beach families played a role in bringing these creations to fruition, which will also serve as a permanent memorial and are now marked by a plaque. Parlette said he collaborated with the Ostensen and Olenicoff families to ensure that the sculptures had meaning to all of them as well as to residents and the park’s many visitors.
Husband and wife Derek and Natalia Ostensen were present at the dedication. “It means the world to us, what Casey did,” said Natalia Ostensen.
Natalia and her brother Andrei Olenicoff, who passed away, used to go to Diver’s Cove together when they were growing up. Derek’s grandfather, Bill Wickett, used to live near the cove, giving the couple a common place for an art installation that will hold special meaning for them.
“We are extremely pleased and delighted,” said Donna Ballard, of the city Arts Commission “It’s a stunning new addition.”
Once the art idea received the approval of the Arts Commission and City Council, the Ostensens were able to fund Parlette so he could to get to work on these two sculptures. After the art dedication ceremony this past Monday, those who attend gathered together to celebrate in Heisler Park with food and drinks.
These new additions of public art – rich with significance for Parlette, the Ostensens and the Olenicoffs — now can be shared with locals and park visitors as well.