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Mammoth Sculpture Planned for Center

October 30, 1985|RANDY LEWIS and HERMAN WONG | Times Staff Writers

New York sculptor Richard Lippold, known for his mammoth works, on Tuesday unveiled a model of a 60-foot-tall stainless-steel-and-aluminum sculpture commissioned by the C. J. Segerstrom family for the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa.

The silver, red and gold work, dubbed "Fire Bird" by Renee Segerstrom, will be 120 feet wide and 100 feet deep. Wings of the bird-like structure will pass through glass walls in the building, making the piece simultaneously an interior and exterior work.

"This is a gift from the entire Segerstrom family," said Henry Segerstrom, managing partner of the C. J. Segerstrom & Sons development company and chairman of the Center's fund drive. The family, he said, feels "it will be truly appreciated by the audiences and the people of Orange County."

The sculpture is the latest contribution to the Center by the Segerstroms, who already have given more than $11 million in donations and land, including the site, toward construction and operation of the $70.7-million Center.

Price Not Disclosed

Henry Segerstrom declined to reveal the sculpture's price tag but said it is separate from the Center's financing.

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Lippold, 70, said: "This sculpture realizes a longtime desire on my part to create a work which relates to both the interior and exterior of a building."

The "Fire Bird" will be installed in time for the scheduled opening of the Center on Oct. 1, 1986, he said.

The coloring of the "Fire Bird" will be accomplished by a relatively new process whereby surface molecules of the metals are permanently colored.

Asked about her choice for the name, Renee Segerstrom said: "I'm a lover of the ballet (Igor Stravinsky's 'The Firebird') and the first thing I thought of when I saw it was a bird, then the firebird."

Lippold, however, adopted the name in two words to avoid direct connection with the ballet. "I didn't conceive it as a bird, but it does look like one," he said. "It's important to remember that once it is installed, you will never see it in its totality."

Lippold is best known for his 120-foot-tall Ad Astra at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, his "Orpheus and Apollo" sculpture in Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center in New York in 1961 and "The Sun," at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

In recent years, Lippold has created industrial sculptures in Texas, New York, Italy and Japan. He has works in progress in Germany, Singapore and South Korea.

"Fire Bird" is Lippold's first major work in California since he created a baldacchino, a canopy-like structure over an altar, at the Cathedral of St. Mary in San Francisco in 1970.

The "Fire Bird" will be the third major sculptural work in the South Coast Plaza Town Center area. In 1982, Isamu Noguchi completed the California Scenario sculpture garden, commissioned by C. J. Segerstrom & Sons along with the Prudential Insurance Co. of America. The sculpture garden reportedly cost $2 million.

The other major artwork at South Coast Plaza Town Center is "Reclining Figure," by famed British sculptor Henry Moore, installed in June, 1984. That $400,000 work was donated by the Angels of the Arts, a major support group for the Center.

On Oct. 15, the Center's board announced that it will cost $70.7 million just to finish the main-theater phase. That revised figure is $13.4 million higher than the previous official price tag of $57.3 million, announced in May, 1983.

This opening-day phase consists of a 3,000-seat multipurpose theater and 500-seat studio-type ("black box") facility, plus various other construction.

A 1,000-seat theater to be built later still was estimated in May, 1983, to cost $8.2 million. This theater has yet to be designed, and an updated construction cost is pending.

As of Oct. 15, the Center has raised, all in private donations, $51.2 million for construction and $26 million for an operating endowment fund, surpassing the original endowment target of $20 million.

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