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Westside Digest

Santa Monica : Plan for Art on Beach OKd

July 29, 1993

A long-debated plan to put public artwork on the beach and at other coastal locations was quietly passed by the Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday.

The Local Coastal Art Plan calls for the completion of the Natural Elements Sculpture Park (NES Park), the brainchild of local artist Bruria Finkel. The park will ultimately consist of 10 separate pieces of art placed at intervals along Santa Monica's three-mile stretch of beach.

Two of the pieces, the "Singing Beach Chairs" and "Santa Monica Art Tool Roll Out: Walk on L.A.," are in place between Pico Boulevard and the Santa Monica Pier. A third, called "Solar Web," has been approved by the City Council and awaits approval from the California Coastal Commission.

"This is a very progressive idea, one Santa Monica has been proud to support over the years," said Santa Monica arts administrator Maria DeHerrera.

The plan encompasses more than NES Park. A controversial 14-foot statue of Gandhi, "The Avataar," intended for Palisades Park also awaits Coastal Commission approval, as does "Twilight and Yearning," which will consist of three lifeboat hulls hung from the underside of the Pier.

The Coastal Commission insisted that Santa Monica draw up a comprehensive art plan before the panel would approve any new artwork. The commission must also approve the plan itself.

Though the plan is a blueprint for public art on or near the beach, each new artwork will still require screening by art professionals and the City Council.

In the past, efforts to put art on the beach and individual projects elsewhere have met with fierce opposition from residents, but naysayers were not out in force Tuesday night. Some opponents complained that the city had not given sufficient notice that the item was on the agenda.

One opponent of the plan, Louise Gabriel, presented an oft-voiced objection when she asked the council, "Why do you want our beaches to be cluttered by man-made objects?"

Councilman Robert T. Holbrook cast the only no vote on the plan. "I don't believe it enhances the beauty of the ocean," he said.

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