3,000 Spheres to Float at MacArthur Park Lake

The over-sized vinyl orbs are part of a large-scale "Portraits of Hope" artwork.

Many things can float upon the surface of a lake. Boats, most famously, and swimmers, if they position themselves to keep prone and stare up at the sky, and the occasional piece of driftwood, too.

But seeing 3,000 enormous, inflatable, and eye-catching spheres take over an urban body of water is a tad more unusual. Unusual, though not entirely unlikely, for that's just what will officially launch on Saturday, Aug. 22.

That's the date that kicks off the four-week, highly visual run of The Spheres at MacArthur Park. There's nothing small about this art project, from the 10,000 volunteers who've spent the last few months dabbing colorful hues to the floating balls to the reason behind it.

And that reason? Giving youth an opportunity to "transform a cityscape."

The spheres have size, for sure -- they're 4-to-6 feet, so, yep, large-ish -- and 3,000 of them, give or take, will nicely fill the lake, which is about 8.39 acres.

This isn't a question from the SAT; the spheres'll fit nicely (though if you want to do the math in your head, go for it.)

Portraits of Hope, an organization which "conceives and develops one-of-a-kind motivational art projects," projects that serve as "creative therapy for hospitalized children and and civic education for all students." Several hospital patients were among the thousands of volunteers who gave their time to transform the vinyl balls into works of art.

If you're thinking you know Projects of Hope, and their beautiful and very on-the-street displays, you do: Tower of Hope, where Beverly Hills meets Century City, is a well-known work helmed by the group. (It's the flower-covered oil well that stands prominently alongside Olympic Boulevard.

The MacArthur Park spheres, given the nature and changeability of water, weather, and vinyl, won't last the same amount of time as The Tower of Hope, but the four-week presentation means a whole lot of people will get to see it, including many of the volunteers that did the painting.

As for the spheres? They'll be changed out, for fresh orbs, "every five days or so." After all the balls have done their spirit-raising, inspiring duty, they'll be donated to "schools, hospitals, and other organizations."

Which means that SoCalers may see the bright floatable artworks for years to come, starting in MacArthur Park and then, perhaps, in their own neighborhood. 

It's a come-together testament to communitiy, to long hours, and to the idea that some surprise pizzazz, via public art, can enhance our city, not just visually, but that-is-so-awesome-ly, too.

It's set to be a stunner of a sight, with the stark, tall lines of downtown's skyscrapers in the background contrasting with the color-pow roundness of the balls.

True, we called the spheres "enormous" earlier, but just to drive home the fact that these aren't the size of golf balls or even basketballs. They'll load up a large lake, easily.

MacArthur Park is at 2230 W. Sixth St.

bottom photo: illustration, Projects of Hope

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