Posts Tagged ‘public art’

Chihuly in Denver’s Botanic Gardens

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
Summer Sun

Summer Sun

Blue and Purple Boat

Blue and Purple Boat

We recently explored Denver’s Botanic Gardens which currently has Dale Chihuly’s art glass sculptures incorporated with the water ponds and flowers. Around every bend is a new group of glass creations which are part of the flowers, grasses, or ponds. They are surprising and exciting.

We were there on a gray morning, not too many people, and the light was perfect to catch the glass pieces without glare. I’ve seen other Chihuly sculptures but these were so much a part of the different “gardens,”  Asian, Plains, rose, etc., that they blended and added at the same time.

Yellow and Black Herons

Yellow and Black Herons

The glass is lighted at night for a totally different experience.

Purple reeds and Yellow sculpture

Purple reeds and Yellow sculpture

Do not miss this if you are in Denver.

Bicycle as art

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
My Bike by  Amos Robinson

My Bike by
Amos Robinson

Amos Robinson created this whirling bicycle in 2008 for the San Diego Port Authority’s Urban Trees project. The  Urban Trees lined the waterfront for several years but the various sculptures have since moved to private settings or other public places. This “tree” is now in Coronado along a different waterfront but still part of the Port Authority’s domain. It sits along a path the rental bikes and walkers frequent and you have to stop and look up into the sky to really see it.

I think the bicycle probably was a bright red before the years of ocean air muted it.

Amos Robinson's bicycle at Scripps Memorial Hospital

Amos Robinson’s bicycle at Scripps Memorial Hospital

Robinson has another incredible cycle in front of Scripps Memorial Hospital and I saw it when it was shiny new. Occasionally he appears with a new sculpture on the lawn in La Jolla to photograph the new piece before it goes to a home.

We saw the Coronado bike on the last day of the 2014 Comic-con gathering across the bay at the convention center so Spider Man, Men in Black, and a ninja of some kind were walking by on their way to the harbor ferry to take them across the water to the convention.  And real bikes whizzed by as well and one Harley.

It was also a rare day for weather; we had rain drops and thunder but no one seemed to care. “My Bike” blended into the gray but it still was impressive.

I always enjoy Robinson’s pieces. They capture the sense of wind and freedom that comes with the ocean–and a bike ride.

Outdoor Art: Murals and Trash Cans

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
Mural by Irwin and Rittermann

Mural by Irwin and Rittermann

Irwin and Rittermann Mural

Irwin and Rittermann Mural

I try to keep up with the Murals in La Jolla but the last one popped up several months ago and I went in search of it.

Searching is not as much fun as discovering outdoor art unexpectedly.  Outdoor art often is  a destination, like monuments and murals.

The La Jolla murals (now twelve) have been up awhile and each one is remarkable but not all provide a sense of wonder as in “wow!”

Robert Irwin presented an installation in London and Philipp Scholz Rittermann photographed it. The result is a relatively new mural in La Jolla. It’s a visually challenging play of objects and perspective, mixing real elements, i.e. palm trees, cars, and streetlight, with the stretched vinyl reproduction of the photograph. It’s hard to walk by without trying to figure it out.  That sets it apart from some of the murals which require only a quick glance to sense the artists’ subject. But like most, it is impossible to photograph without the environmental elements—hence, outdoor art.

On a smaller scale are this car seat and trash can on the waterfront in Moro Bay.  We definitely just tripped upon this art on a walk around the small bay.  Both pieces are fun.

Car Seat

Car Seat

The car seat looks real from a short distance and seems to be abandoned junk that didn’t make it to the landfill. And it is impossible to look at without seeing the boats and wharf. But when you get up close, you can see a plaque in memory of a friend and we can read a little history into the torn car seat and the tools. No doubt it was placed here for a reason. We don’t need to know the reason or the person. It is a tribute.

Trash Can

Trash Can

The interesting trash can is obviously a way to spruce up an ugly container for, well, trash. It’s a mosaic with a waterfront theme–a surprise. Definitely site specific, definitely part of the setting, a human comment on the harbor.

Trash and art. That about says it all.


The Surfing Madonna

Monday, November 18th, 2013
The Surfing Madonna

The Surfing Madonna

She’s back!

First location The Surfing Madonna

First location The Surfing Madonna

When Mark Patterson first bolted his 10 x 10 foot mosaic, The Surfing Madonna, to the support arch of the railroad track in Encinitas, he did it quickly wearing a hard hat and disguised as a construction worker (he had help from other “workers”). But, in addition to being a religious subject on public property, it was, broadly speaking, graffiti. No one knew the artist. No one gave him permission. We loved it. But it couldn’t stay.  That was in 2011. It resided on another wall for awhile but it wasn’t very visible.

Now it is on a private wall, hence legal, and we are grateful to be able to see her again as we drive down Encinitas Boulevard.

I really liked the first location better, thought, because it was approachable. I walked up to the mosaic and almost put my nose on it. The tiles are beautiful. The silver and gold and the blue have deep color and shine even in the shadows. People even brought flowers to that first location. It was a fun “happening.” And mysterious because Mark Patterson didn’t admit to creating it for some weeks.

Now it is official, outdoor art. Still colorful. Still with an important message, “Save The Ocean.” But it’s rather aloof now, up from the sidewalk. It is still visible from a car as you drive by and you can walk along a sidewalk to get in front of it. The wall of the Leucadia Pizzeria is much better with art on it.

The graffiti artist Bansky just finished a three week blitz in New York. The fun of that, in addition to the art itself, was that no one knew ahead of time on which wall or truck door his spray paint might land. That element of art-on-the-fly is what The Surfing Madonna had.

She’s more secure now. I hope she stays for a long time. Considering all she’s been through, she still sparkles.




Murals of La Jolla-Richard Allen Morris

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Applied by R. A. MorrisDetail, "Applied"

Detail, "Applied"

The eighth mural of La Jolla is on an accessible wall and is printed so well on the large Miroflex cloth that the texture of the impasto looks three dimensional. Richard Allen Morris uses texture and vivid colors in his paintings; this mural is called “Applied” and is printed from a photo of the original eight-by-eleven inch work. The mural is surprisingly clear and the textures pop. This is easy to relate to,  easy to walk up close to. It reminds me of scoops of ice cream–maybe because it was especially warm on the day I walked by.

A couple of the murals seem a little worse for wear in the bright sunlight–Anya Gallaccio’s electron microscope image of a sand grain seems to be fading–the dark valleys are not nearly as dark as they used to be and Ryan McGinness’s “53 Women” is not quite as vibrant–the primary colors are just a little less startling. Of course, maybe it’s not the sun’s fault. Maybe I’m just used to seeing those two.

Baldessari's SeaScape & Brain Cloud with Palm Tree

I had lunch at George’s of the Cove and sat next to John Baldessari’s brain cloud and it is just as weird as ever. That third floor terrace is about the only place you can really see the whole of Baldessari’s mural. From the walkway below by the sea,  the top part is visible but not the deep blue of the ocean below the brain cloud.  It takes a while to get used to Baldessari but the brain cloud is my favorite Murals of La Jolla.
There will be eight more murals in the next months.

Richard Allen Morris’s Applied is fun.  It kind of sneaks up on you as you walk up Fay Street. It seems more “universal” in that you only need to appreciate the artist’s use of color and the movement given the color with the use of texture and not ponder what the deeper meaning might be. It’s a great swirl of energy.

Ann Hamilton’s Mural in La Jolla

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Ann Hamilton's By Sea

Ann Hamilton's By Sea

So it’s been in the 90’s here and traffic to the sea is bumper-to-bumper. But there is a new addition (well, new since May 2012) to the Murals of La Jolla which is worth the wait in traffic if you aren’t already heading to sand and salt water (not to mention the jelly-fish and sting rays competing with splashing humans).

Ann Hamilton’s web page has some heavy academic prose explaining her installations. Personally, I find the erudite stuff unnecessary and a bit over-the-top. This new mural of a Tall Ship is titled “By Sea” and we do not need any help in relating to it, especially in San Diego where we have the Maritime Museum and the Star of India always on our waterfront. And especially since Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before The Mast charts the 1835 coast of California for us, and twenty some Tall Ships are coming to San Diego in two weeks for the 2012 Festival of Sails.

Hamilton’s By Sea is on one large wall of the CitiBank building on Herschel Avenue in La Jolla. It is a digital print on vinyl as are some of the other Murals of La Jolla. Interestingly, it is directly opposite the bright pinks, blues, and yellows of Ryan McGinness’s 53 Women. You can see both with a simple head turn and the contrast couldn’t be greater.

McGinness’s is clean outlines. Hamilton’s is intentionally fuzzy or blurry or misty or elementally vague, whichever adjective conveys the haunting quality of the ship from the past sailing into the unknown on a wall of a modern financial institution. Nice.

It’s hard to divorce the ship from the mural’s modern surroundings. That is part of the viewing challenge of outdoor art. But it’s also part of the overall feeling that a Tall Ship in the midst of uncharted waters is a journey we take divorced from modern times.

You can make of this misty ship any journey you want.

McGinness on one wall clearly expresses his own vision. Hamilton on the opposite wall joins her vision to ours.  See both.

And check out the far horizon just a short walk away at the edge of the real and highly mythical Pacific.

Urban Trees

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Keep Your Wheels Turning, Use the Wind

Does this look like a picture postcard?

You bet it does. At least to those of us old enough to know what a postcard is.

That’s the idea behind San Diego’s Urban Trees. Each year since 2004 an exhibition of 30 sculptures sprouts along half a mile of waterfront. This is Urban Trees Six. the sixth series or 30 trees. They reside in an urban landscape which makes it difficult to snap a photo without pieces of the city in the viewfinder. That’s the fun of it. The sculptures are urban trees. The beauty of the bay and sky can sometimes frame the pieces and generally the eye can focus on the sculptures as they stand and ignore the rest of the stuff. My little camera can’t. Of course, I can crop the heck out of the photo, but that is only half the picture. And only half the idea.

The sculptures exist in an urban setting because they are comments on city life. They are created from many different materials, rusted steel, Plexiglas, laser cut wood, or auto wheel rims like Dale Bolton’s Keep Your Wheels Turning, Use the Wind above. Some rotate like Neal & Tiffany Bociek’s SIC’Emore (doggie tree),

Kinetic sculpture

and Catherine Carlton’s Chemis-Tree.

Kinetic sculpture

Some sing in the wind like Jim Trask’s Bats in Your Bell Tree.

Singing bats and bells

Some make you laugh, some are serious comments like Cathy Ann Janes’ Thank You, an American eagle with US military dog tags for feathers.

American eagle

All worth the walk along the busy embarcadero. The trees are all for sale, if you have to have one. The prices range from $6,000.00 to $45,000.00. If you go to, you can see the pieces in studio portraits and some videos.