Los Angeles

Is It Art? Residents Question New Los Angeles Outdoor Sculpture

Visitors to a park in San Pedro on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean began noticing the polygonal structure made out of cardboard last week. It stands 11 feet and sits off a sidewalk along a path overlooking Pacific blue.

It quickly drew raised eyebrows and questions on Facebook.

"It's shaped like a doughnut," said Xavier Hermosillo, 66, of San Pedro. "It's taped together with shipping labels. People hate it. There's been a lot of discussion that art is in eye of beholder.

"Well I behold trash."

Mimi Borden wrote on Facebook: "I'm confused. Is that supposed to be art? An extra trash can would be a more aesthetic addition..."

The city of LA says it's art, a "triumphal arch" that frames the entrance that cargo ships use for both the ports of LA and Long Beach, where 40 percent of all goods arriving into the U.S. are unloaded. You can see a video of it here.

Southern California artist Michael Parker created it with a small team and a budget of $20,000 as part of the city's first public art biennial dubbed "CURRENT:LA Water."

It's one of 16 art pieces around the city through Aug. 15. City officials hope that the art sparks conversations about "critical issues" facing the city like water.

As part of "The Ides," there are dozens of small clay sculptures and "radically-cartographed collaborative arch du triumph translations" [sic] on view at the Point Fermin Lighthouse.

Parker is thrilled that people are asking questions about his project.

"I think you definitely expect your artwork, particularly for public sculpture, to be really pleasing," said Parker, who also teaches sculpture at Cal State Long Baech. "I'm not interested in making purely pretty things."

Saturday he's expected to be at Point Fermin Park to talk about his project made of plywood and skinned in cardboard that took about two months to complete.

Since it went up July 15, it's been getting a lot of chatter on Facebook, sparking the age-old question -- is it art?

Laureen Vivian hates it.

"I posted that it looked like a doughnut that has rolled through our littered parks!" she wrote on Facebook.

Judy Gleissner wrote: "This is not appropriate for our beautiful park! Who decided this!"

Barbara Vuoso-Pomerleau wrote: "What in the world are those politicians thinking....Pt. Fermin Has beautiful grounds, old magnificent trees, over looking the cliffs of the Pacific. If I remember it also had no littering signs!!!!! Those decision makers who decided on that monstrosity should be given a huge trash ticket."

Connie Llanos, a spokeswoman for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, said LA is the "creative capital of the world."

"Mayor Garcetti is committed to making art accessible to all Angelenos," she said. "While not every resident will react the same to every piece of art, the point is to inspire and provoke conversations. In particular, the goal of Current:LA biennial is to make Angelenos rethink their relationship with water, and better understand how the L.A. River connects the diverse communities and cultures that make our city great."

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