After about two weeks of anticipation, the sheath was taken off a new public sculpture at IKEA Burbank on Friday that had raised a few eyebrows before its unveiling.
Underneath the cover was a 16-foot-tall abstract sculpture of a vase named “Bobble,” which was created by Christian Moeller, a renowned artist and art professor at UCLA.
Burbank city and IKEA officials gathered near the store’s San Fernando Boulevard entrance to unveil the city’s 100th art installation that is part of Burbank’s Art in Public Places ordinance.
Its base is orange and white, with the neck of the vase tilted forward. It has a yellow ball-like object protruding from the top of the vase that moves around when blown by the wind.
Though the sculpture was created and designed by Moeller, the art piece was fabricated by John Baker and members of Carlson Arts.
For the past two weeks, many passersby on social media have claimed that the sculpture, which was wrapped in a white material, resembled a phallic object. However, the unveiling on Friday hopefully put those comments to rest, according to IKEA officials.
“I like the fact that it’s wind-driven, and I think the colors are beautiful,” said Jeff O’Shaughnessy, store manager of IKEA Burbank. “I’m a fan of public art, and I think it’s a beautiful piece.”
Robert Grimsley, real estate manager for IKEA North America, said during the unveiling that the company chose Moeller because of his numerous public art pieces, which are installed throughout the United States.
One of Moeller’s more recent art pieces can be found at the Avalon apartments in West Hollywood.
“Art can challenge our expectations and our imagination in a new way,” Grimsley said. “Our art was inspired by floral motifs resembling a highly abstract giant vase. It appears as a large free-standing figure, playful and open for multiple readings.”
Grimsley added that Moeller wanted to add a kinetic element to the art piece, which is achieved by the yellow object that pops out of the vase and gently turns left and right.
Friday marked IKEA’s fulfillment of Burbank’s Art in Public Places ordinance, which requires that 1% of the cost for a major project must go toward an art piece at the site or be placed in the city’s Public Art Fund, said Marisa Garcia, assistant director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
She added that the Arts in Public Places Committee approved the project this past January and cost IKEA $360,000.
Garcia said she was aware of the comments made by the public about the sculpture before its unveiling and said that art pieces like “Bobble” will provoke conversation in the community.
“I do not disagree with people being upset with the image it conjured in your mind, but I think that now that it’s been unveiled, my hope is that they look at it differently and appreciate it as art,” she said. “If they like it, that’s fantastic, but if they don’t, that’s OK.”