Local art lovers gathered at The Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Fullerton on Thursday for the unveiling of a completed outdoor sculpture garden that was inspired by the unexpected COVID-19 outbreak.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony had a few artists in attendance, as well as constituents from the center and local Fullerton residents eager to welcome these art pieces to the center.
During the ceremony, CEO of The Muckenthaler, Farrell Hirsch, shared that the inspiration to bring an outdoor sculpture garden to the center came when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Most indoor businesses were forced to close or limit their capacity and operation guidelines so the center had to get creative with how it would keep its art and center alive.
“When the pandemic hit, we noticed more people walking around,” Hirsch said. “It was then that we were sparked with the idea and thought that if it’s our job to bring the art to the community, this is a perfect and safe way to do so.”
Local contemporary sculptor, Bret Price, created two out of the eight featured pieces. The newest addition to the garden is his 2019 sculpture called “Happenstance” which happens to reside right next to his 2007 piece “Godot.”
“Godot” is a bright red piece of twists and turns that would seem to defy the rules of gravity. It is in the artist’s most common art style and uses his preferred method of sculpture.
According to Price himself, he’s always been interested in art that goes against the forces of nature; especially when working with raw materials like clay or steel. His focus in his artistry is to convey an unexpected sense of movement and balance.
Price has always resided in the Orange County area and considers himself to be wholeheartedly an all Orange County man. He even placed his own art gallery in Santa Ana. Price stated that getting to have his pieces featured in a local museum in the historic city of Fullerton is a big honor to him.
After Price gave a little insight about himself, the mayor of Fullerton, Jennifer Fitzgerald, did the honors of cutting the ribbon to declare the completed garden and the welcoming of the final sculpture.
Once the ceremony concluded, attendees were able to walk around and admire the pieces.
Other pieces in the garden included a mosaic on one of the buildings called “Art is Joy” by local artist Katherine England and a sculpture called, “The Wave” by an abstract artist who died in 1993 named Daniel Miller.
The oldest featured set of art pieces in the garden called “Papua New Guinea Story Poles” dates back to over 300 years ago and is currently on a long-term loan to the center from The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana.
These wide range of poles were created by Latmul craftsmen in Papua New Guinea to support their men’s houses. In these house centers, men would socialize, discuss community matters and initiate young men into different phases of life. These displays were much too long to feature in an indoor setting with sizes ranging from 10 to 15 feet.
Local children’s artist, Sarah Clifton, led an art activity after the ribbon-cutting ceremony to whoever wished to participate.
Clifton, who works for The Muckenthaler, shared that she’s been doing children’s art for 10 years. She also explained that this was her first project back since the pandemic hit and has spent the past nine months away after welcoming a new baby.
“Before COVID hit, I was working here weekly. I’m a children’s artist and I mostly help with the ceramics program here,” Clifton said. “Usually the kids will come in the studio and we help them with ceramic projects.”
The activity included cardboard boxes, yarn, chalk and cardboard cutout shapes to create a fun sculpture. Participants were able to pick up supplies from around the courtyard to make their own creative art piece.
Clifton also had her own fun art piece for display in front of the children’s activity. She explained that she was given a two-week notice to put together her activity and display. In the past two weeks, she had friends come to her house to help complete the art piece that was made from mostly cardboard boxes.
“I wanted something that we could do for COVID, so outdoors and spread out,” she said. “This art idea was adapted from something I saw on Instagram. Another studio in Boston did an entire tower and I got the idea from them.”
The sculpture garden is available to view free of charge outside of The Muckenthaler Cultural Center and a downloadable map of the garden is available at www.TheMuck.org.