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A Raw State of Beauty : The city of Burbank has commissioned two artworks for its recycle center--one using all natural fibers, the other reclaimed glass.

January 01, 1993|NANCY KAPITANOFF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Nancy Kapitanoff writes regularly for The Times.

One never knows where one might come across good art. It's certainly not confined to museums and galleries.

For instance, a trip to the Burbank Recycle Center will provide more than just the opportu nity to unload cans, bottles and newspapers generated during the holidays. Anyone who stops by this clean, attractive center that opened in October will also find two artworks there. They were commissioned specifically for the site by the city of Burbank.

Hanging in the office is San Francisco artist Sharon Jokela's tapestry, "Afternoon Dragonfly," which depicts a forest with a stream alive with fish.

"It was made from all natural materials--silk and cotton--and all hand-dyed in her own rainbow of colors," said Jillian Coldiron, a Pasadena-based art consultant. Coldiron introduced the work of more than 35 artists to the committee that chose Jokela and sculptor Otto Rigan to create art for the recycling center. The five committee members, three of them Burbank residents, based their selections on the artists' previous work and their interviews with the committee.

"The concept for Sharon was to do something about how nature makes you feel and, if we're nurturing enough, we still have time to enjoy nature and the beauty it has given us," Coldiron said.

Standing by the center's entrance is Rigan's "Reclaimed Column," which the Phoenix-based artist installed himself in early December. An 11 1/2-foot-tall sculpture supported by an 18-inch base, its perforated bronze "light cages"--as Rigan refers to them--are filled with three-quarters of a ton of irregularly shaped, clear glass chunks. As they refract and reflect light, the work appears to have its own internal illumination.

These fractured glass pieces came from a specialty glass manufacturing factory in West Virginia, where they were considered waste.

"All my sculpture is based on waste. When I use stone, the stones are those that the quarry has no use for," Rigan said. "This glass is beautiful raw material, but by factory standards, it's reject. I take materials right out of the factory and use them."

"We wanted something classy, that reflects recycling," Burbank administrative officer Joy Hamilton said. "Secondary materials, reclaimed materials can be used in many ways. You don't have to throw them away--don't have to put them in the landfill. This piece met our theme without looking like junk."

Rigan describes the column as a contemporary interpretation of a classical form.

"The idea here is to turn the column inside out by drawing the viewers' attention to the interior of the form," he said. "The use of glass waste as the central focus of this sculpture serves to remind us that we need to seek creative ways to reuse and recycle our natural resources.

"When you work in the public realm, you're not just doing it for yourself, but for the city, the neighborhood, for this place and for the ideology of this place. In a way, this is signage for what is going on inside," he said.

Sandy Hilton, public arts coordinator for Burbank, explained that the recycling center is just one of several Burbank locations to present art to the public under the city's Art in Public Places program. After Wildwood Canyon Park was renovated, a steel sculpture of a tree by Ron Pekar was added to the landscape.

Shamrock Holdings Co. commissioned Burbank's first privately funded public artwork--a larger-than-life, old-time cameraman by the father-and-son team of Aldo and Andrea Favilli. The bronze piece is on view at the corner of Olive Avenue and Lakeside Drive.

For Cusumano Development Co.'s senior citizens housing project, Marlo Bartels made a 10-by-10-foot tile mural entitled "Early Burbank." Working with the project's architect, he also created tile seat walls and redesigned the fencing and gated entryway.

This month, Joe Fay's aluminum artwork featuring a boy, a girl, a cat, a dog and a bird will be installed at the city's animal shelter.

"People don't have to go outside the community to see good art," Hilton said.


* Location: Burbank Recycle Center, 500 S. Flower St., Burbank.

* Hours: Otto Rigan's "Reclaimed Column" may be seen 24 hours a day; Sharon Jokela's "Afternoon Dragonfly" is on view during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

* Information: For a list of materials accepted at the center, call (818) 841-9700.

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