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Musical Chairs : Proposed Beach Sculptures Will Resonate in Wind

February 13, 1986|JEFF BURBANK | Times Staff Writer

The city of Santa Monica is seeking state permission to place a pair of 18-foot sculptured beach chairs in its proposed Natural Elements Sculpture Park on the sand south of Santa Monica Pier.

The application was submitted to the California Coastal Commission this week, according to Arts Commission director David Lutz. He said the state board, which must approve all permanent construction in the coastal zone, is expected to consider the permit in the next six weeks.

The beach chairs, designed by San Francisco artist Douglas Hollis, could be in place by autumn, Lutz said.

Hollis calls his creation "wind-harp beach chairs." The backs of the chairs will be made of pipes that respond sonically to the wind; some will make sounds like a pipe organ, others like a harp. Beachgoers will be able to sit in them. The cost of the sculptures is estimated at $17,000.

If additional funds are available, the city will buy a second pair of the chairs, Lutz said. Hollis, who is collaborating on another sculpture in MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, also designed a wind organ for UC Berkeley.

The City Council approved the Natural Elements Sculpture Park in December and allocated $41,000 for it. It has applied for a matching grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. Private donations are also being sought.

The permit application comes more than two years after the outdoor sculpture park was proposed by Bruria Finkel, a former member of the Arts Commission.

The commission considered proposals from 27 artists and asked 10 to exhibit models in City Hall and the public library. Commissioners then asked the public to rate the models. The top three were selected for the park.

Santa Monica artist Carl Cheng's "Art Tool," a large roller that makes impressions in the sand, came in first. Hollis' chairs placed second, and a jungle gym-like structure by New York artist Nancy Holt entitled "Solar Web," was the third choice.

Cheng's and Holt's pieces are priced at $60,000, but the city has asked Holt to scale down her design.

Installation of the works has not been scheduled pending more funding.

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