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SO SOCAL: The Best...The Beautiful...And the Bizarre
: ON THE RIVERBANK

Birds to Paradise

May 23, 1999|Jason Dietrich

Seemingly ready to skewer errant vandals with their sword-length bills--or at least frighten small children--a pair of 9-foot-tall blue herons now guard a stretch of the L.A. River in Silver Lake. Last month, Mayor Richard Riordan dedicated the "Great Heron Gate," located off Fletcher Drive, and the new Rattlesnake Park it adjoins, so named for the family of rattlers relocated before the serpentine mini-park could be constructed.

The gate, part of a 45-foot-long installation by L.A. sculptor and machine artist Brett Goldstone, depicts the flora and fauna that the river sustains as it flows from mountain headwaters into the city. Goldstone and his helpers worked more than 200 hours on the swirling, rust-colored figures, made largely from 3/16- and 1/4-inch-thick steel plate. The metalwork, commissioned by Friends of the Los Angeles River and paid for by the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority, will be joined by a second gate enclosing a mini-park farther upstream that will stress the river's power and violence, as opposed to the more tranquil vision offered by the herons.

"This is the first welcoming gate on the river," notes environmental activist Lewis MacAdams, author of two books of poems inspired by the river. "All the other gates have been meant to keep people out."

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