The five best public art pieces in the South Bay

by Garrison Frost

Any list is totally subjective, and this one listing the five best public art pieces in the South Bay certainly falls into that category. Ask another person, and he or she might easily offer another five. But these are mine. I list them in no particular order, although the Korean Bell definitely tops the list.

  1. “Korean Bell of Friendship and Pavilion,” San Pedro. Easily the best public art piece in the South Bay also gets the prize for the best location, high above the cliffs on Point Fermin. Do you remember it from the The Usual Suspects?
  2. “Gray Whale Migration,” Redondo Beach. Wyland has become pretty kitsch, but you can’t deny the impact of a giant colorful painting of whales on the side of the ugly power plant. This mural was only dedicated in 1991, yet I can’t for the life of me remember what the plant looked like before then. Lots of folks refer to this popular mural on the city’s AES power plant as the “Whaling Wall,” which is and isn’t correct. Some time ago, Wyland committed to creating 100 similar murals that he called “Whaling Walls.” The piece in Redondo Beach is number 31 in the series, but it has its own name.
  3. LAX Gateway Pylons, Los Angeles. This is certainly the most controversial public art in our top five, for a few reasons. First, it is arguable that the Los Angeles International Airport isn’t technically in the South Bay. Second, lots of people hate it. We admit that at times, the illuminated columns don’t really look all that great, particular the rather long period before late last year when they weren’t working at all. Still, there are other times when they are absolutely sublime, the coolest things you’ve ever seen.
  4. Tim Kelly statue, Hermosa Beach. Most people didn’t know that for years this iconic statue of lifeguard Tim Kelly at the foot of the Hermosa Beach pier was made of hollow fiberglass. That was until recently when a bunch of residents decided that it needed to be reshaped in bronze and better incorporated into the renovated pier area.
  5. “Six L.A. Artists,” Torrance. Muralist Kent Twitchell has created a number of fantastic statues through the Los Angeles area, and we in the South Bay should be honored to have such a fine example at 1220 Engracia Avenue in Torrance. Just so you know, the artists pictured are, from left, Marta Chaffee Stang, Alonzo Davis, Paul Czirban, Oliver Nowlin, Eloy Torrez, Wayanna Kato.

(May 2, 2007)

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