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Monday, May 31, 2010

California Scenario turns 30

Famed artist, sculptor, and landscape designer Isamu Noguchi's California Scenario project in Costa Mesa is celebrating it's 30th anniversary this year.  The Dirt reports that to commemorate the milestone, the Noguchi Museum in New York has a new exhibition discussing the work, complete with photographs, models, and video. 
The Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, New York, has marked the thirtieth anniversary of famed modern artist Isamu Noguchi’s California Scenario with a new exhibition. The public garden, commissioned by developer and philanthropist Henry T. Segerstrom, is located in Costa Mesa, California. The exhibition explores the design of garden through photographs, models, and video.
In 1979, Segerstrom asked Noguchi to design a public garden to enhance two office towers built on family land once used as a lima bean farm. While Segerstrom initially wanted a lush retreat, Noguchi instead created a simple stone plaza with a few green spaces. The Noguchi Museum writes that the artist first conceived the project as an “abstract metaphor for the state of California, from the Sierras, to the desert, to the woods. In addition to including redwoods and cacti, among other native plants, it encompasses a number of individual elements designed by the artist to evoke some of California’s salient characteristics.”

The garden features a crack filled with water and stones, which functions as a stream beginning at the thirty-foot-high sandstone triangle named “Water Source” and ending at “Water Use,” a granite wedge. ”Forest Walk” takes visitors past a patch of California redwoods and “Desert Land” features a “symmetrical mound planted with a variety of cacti, agave, and other desert plants.” The sculpture “Spirit of the Lima Bean,” twelve-feet-high carved granite boulders, educates visitors about the earlier use of the site.

Segerstrom and Noguchi worked on the project for two years. Today, it’s a well-visited (and well-maintained) site open to all. In fact, Segerstrom “personally ensured” California Scenario was well-preserved over the long-term.  The exhibition is open through October 24, 2010.
Sadly for us, the exhibit is in New York, but fortunately for us, the actual work is still open to the public in Costa Mesa. So, while you can't go to the exhibit without a plane ticket, you can enjoy the unique sculpture garden in person with a short drive to Two Town Center next to South Coast Plaza.  While there, you can also see a classic Peter Walker design. 

(images from The Dirt, courtesy of The Noguchi Museum, New York.  All Rights Reserved.)

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