Los Angeles

“Sculpture in the City”

Esthetic Research Center

The Esthetic Research Center (ARC), formed under the leadership of Charles Mattox, has collaborated with Century City to present the first fruits of its existence, “Sculpture in the City.” ARC was initiated with the primary objective of creating (at last) a viable liaison between certain local artists working in “new materials” and/or “monumental form,” and those industries disposed to make their resources available to such artists. The second purpose of ARC, as demonstrated in the current Century City project, is to see that monumental outdoor sculpture is indeed displayed out of the doors of museums and galleries. In other words, the art should be “encountered” as a natural part of the urban environment: at least this is the way of approaching display problems that seems to be foremost in ARC’s philosophy. Beyond this, there is a concern simply for making art easily accessible to a lot of people, even if they may be more interested specifically in stopping off at Joseph Magnin’s than in experiencing monumental sculpture. Finally, ARC exemplifies the desire of artists to exhibit their work in friendly surroundings.

Century City has proved to be more than ingratiating to the members of ARC. Not only have they temporarily given over large areas of the terraced space around their enormous complex of office skyscrapers and shopping plazas, but they have laid concrete beds on fallow territory expressly to hold sculpture, and have carried the expense of transporting and installing the works. As someone on the scene (possibly either an ARC or a CC representative) remarked, “Maybe this will set an example for other urban developers.”

The participating sculptors in the project are Oliver Andrews, Tony Berlant, Tony DeLap, Max Finkelstein, Nancy Gowans, Lloyd Hamrol, Craig Kauffman, John Mason, John McCracken, Jan Peter Stern, Vasa, Peter Voulkos, Bob Bazler, Wilton David, Kosso Eloul, Judy Gerowitz, David Gray, Jessie Jacobs, Rita Letendre, Charles Mattox, Clark Murray, De-Wain Valentine and Alan Vizentez.

The event got off to a well-publicized start with a pièce de résistance by Lloyd Hamrol, Judy Gerowitz and Eric Orr called Disappearing Environment, or Sublimation. This involved the erecting of no less than fifteen tons of dry ice in the form of a “walk-through sculpture.” Jan Peter Stern’s entry at six tons and Kosso Eloul’s at four and a half admittedly run a distant second and third, but they don’t disappear. Other works of note are Tony Berlant’s Forest, a towering walk-through construction of green fiberglass and epoxy pillars, and the smaller but perhaps more significant pieces by Clark Murray and John McCracken. Strangely enough, most of the sculpture does not exactly come into its own in this eminently urban environment. It may be due to the consistently Well Planned architecture of Century City that even such gigantic works as Voulkos’s Hiro II seem not insignificant, but self-conscious, as if their own hard-won power to effect the spectator on integral terms had been deflected from them by the presence of so much industry.

Jane Livingston