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Ventura County Focus / East | THOUSAND OAKS

Arts Panel Accepts Sculpture Donation

January 10, 1998|KIMBERLY LISAGOR

In a unanimous vote, the Thousand Oaks Arts Commission has accepted an Encino artist's donation of "Component," a 30-foot-tall, glowing tower of recycled computer parts powered by solar energy.

But commission members and city officials offered little assurance that the sculpture would appear where the artist wants to see it: on the top of Civic Arts Plaza.

The commission voted Thursday night. If the City Council gives final approval next month, the artwork will be put on display at a location to be determined later.

"I'm glad they approved it and I really had no doubt they would," Councilwoman Linda Parks said. "It makes a statement and it's also educational. I definitely will take my kids to see it."

Although artist Steven Simon recommended the green, luminescent sculpture be placed atop the arts center, City Council members said they are not likely to approve that location. It could pose a safety threat by distracting drivers on the Ventura Freeway, Mayor Mike Markey said earlier this week.

And city officials who are still fielding complaints about the controversial copper curtain on the plaza's east wall have said they are worried about adding another prominently displayed, artistic anomaly to the building.

"There are certainly some questions involved as to where it is going to go," commission member Robert Levy said. "But we don't want [the council] to deny it based on location." In a memo he plans to present to council members, Levy warns that turning down unusual art could discourage future artists from donating their works.

"If in order to avoid being controversial we limit our selections to only that subject matter which is safe or universally acceptable, the list would be short indeed, outside of the ubiquitous oak tree emblem, babies, puppies, whales or yellow happy faces which proclaim: 'Have a Nice Day,' " he wrote.

As an alternate location, Levy suggested the grounds of the Discovery Center, a hands-on science museum for kids that was approved by the city last year for future construction.

"That sounds perfectly acceptable to me," said Simon, who said the purpose of his art is to communicate the importance of using alternate energy sources.

However, since the sculpture is held in place by cables that could harm those who touch them, he said "Component" should be displayed out of reach of the public.

"It should be placed on top of a building," Simon said. "I am willing to work with them on that."

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