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10 Sculpture Gardens

Amid Rush of City Life, Parks With Art Provide Oases of Beauty

December 31, 1987|SUSAN PERRY | Perry is a Los Angeles writer. and

Most people ignore their New Year's resolutions mainly because of the difficulties in living up to them. If you are in that category, rejoice. We offer you something that costs practically nothing, takes little energy and, best of all, will improve your attitude. What's more, you can do it alone or accompanied by friends.

What we have in mind is a series of visits to nearby sculpture gardens, which might include such diverse items as twisted ribbons of stainless steel, talking trees, bronze-colored granite rock or a clock tower made of junk. These exhibits can be found at museums, universities, parks and shopping plazas.

When exploring such gardens, be sure to leave sufficient time to get the "feel" of them. Though the concepts underlying some of the sculptures are obvious to even the casual viewer, other pieces are wildly abstract and demand more time and attention. Fortunately, picnickers are welcome at many of the Southern California sculpture gardens in our sampler, so bring along some victuals to supplement the aesthetic nourishment you are bound to soak up.

Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, a collection of the Wight Art Gallery, UCLA, Los Angeles, (213) 825-1461. The sculptures may be viewed anytime, and a brochure with map is available at Wight Art Gallery, 1100 Dickson Art Center. The gallery is open Tuesday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Wednesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 1-5 p.m. A catalogue may be purchased at the gallery. Free tours can be arranged through (213) 825-3264.

Composed of 72 pieces and still growing, this collection of outdoor artworks was designed by Franklin D. Murphy and the late Ralph Cornell to blend aesthetically into its natural setting on more than five acres of parkland on the UCLA campus. From the Wight Art Gallery and the Theater Arts Building, flanking the University Research Library, it extends to the Social Sciences Building (Bunche Hall) and to the Graduate School of Management. Works by many of the greatest European and American sculptors of the late 19th and 20th centuries are included.

A few examples: "Button Flower," 1959, by Alexander Calder; "Point as a Set, No. 25," 1970, by Claire Falkenstein; "Dance Columns I and II," 1978, by Robert Graham; "Bas Reliefs I-IV," 1909-1930, by Henri Matisse; "Mere Ubu," 1975, by Joan Miro; "Two-Piece Reclining Figure, No. 3," 1961, by Henry Moore; "The Walking Man," 1905, by Auguste Rodin; "Cubi XX," 1964, by David Smith; and "Mother With Child at Her Hip," 1979, by Francisco Zuniga.

Art in Public Places collection, City of Brea, (714) 990-7600. You can obtain a detailed booklet with a self-guided tour map of the first 59 pieces in the collection for $2 at Brea City Hall, or by mail for $2.50 (City of Brea, Number One Civic Center Circle, Brea 92621).

In 1975, the Brea City Council implemented a unique Art in Public Places program that has resulted in the installation of more than 60 sculptures throughout the city.

Subsidized through private contributions, the collection grows at the rate of about half a dozen pieces per year. Among the works are the following: "Twist and Slide," stainless steel, by Daniel Miller, at Associated Road and Birch Street; "Water Tower," by Gared N. Smith, at Associated and Country Hills roads; "Rock Wagon," bronze, copper, stainless and corten steel, by Harold Pastorius, at Kraemer Boulevard and Edgemont Lane; "The Eagle," bronze, 26 feet high with a wingspan of 16 feet, by Daniel Gluck, at Birch and Flower Hill streets; and many other unusual and dramatic pieces.

Art Center College of Design Sculpture Garden, 1700 Lida St., Pasadena, (818) 584-5000. The large-scale pieces in this ongoing, changing hillside sculpture garden may be viewed Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to dusk; the area is open later but is unlighted. (The college is now closed for the year-end holidays and will reopen Jan. 4. It also is closed on Sundays and most holidays.) Inquire at the Art Center receptionist desk for directions to the collection. Free guided tours are given Tuesday and Wednesday at 11 a.m.; call for reservations. School groups are welcome and special tours are available.

Included are works by Donald Judd, Bruce Nauman, Guy Dill, Mark di Suvero, George Rickey, Michael Heizer, Robert Therrien, Peter Voulkos, Michael Todd, Michel Gerard, Tom Wesselmann, Robert Lobe and Alan Saret. Pieces range in style from Di Suvero's giant seesaw-like sculpture and Todd's welded construction to Gerard's six-part black metal sculpture arranged around an irregular metal ring on the ground. Four works by the 19th-Century French Romantic sculptor Auguste Rodin are also included.

Los Angeles Art Council's Sculpture Walk, Century City. You may obtain descriptive brochures in Century City building lobbies or by calling the Los Angeles Art Council at (213) 552-3539.

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