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Online survey picks public's favorites for next round of Newport sculpture garden

The public has taken its first pass at the artworks up for consideration in the next phase of the sculpture exhibit at Newport Beach’s Civic Center Park, leaning toward the whimsical and nautical.

All 46 submissions for the third phase of the rotating display were presented to the city Arts Commission on Thursday, along with the works’ rankings in a recent online “people’s choice” survey.

The works range from bronze portrait figures to a 40-foot-tall illuminated stained-glass tower. The results of the online vote will be considered by a judging panel.

“There are very lofty ambitions for the exhibition, how it can animate and beautify” the 14-acre park adjacent to City Hall, said Rick Stein of project manager Arts OC.

Here are the top 10 works, according to the online survey, which drew 375 votes over two weeks in July:

  • “Popsciles” by Craig Gray (9 feet): This steel, wood and stucco jumble of larger-than-life, colorful ice pops handily took the top spot, with 51 votes. Stein noted that the artist spelled the title “Popsciles,” and he wasn’t sure whether that was intentional or a typo.
  • “Burnt Matchstick” by Karl Unnasch (40 feet): Reaching four stories tall, this is the largest piece in the field. It glows with LED lights behind the stained glass and acrylic panels of its body and gnarled tip. Stein said the artist is willing to adapt the piece with solar panels so it doesn’t need an outside electricity source.
  • “Getting Your Bearings” by David Boyer (12.5 feet): A kinetic wind sculpture resembling a tree.
  • “Neptune” by Craig Campbell (8 feet): The bearded sea god in bronze, with his trident and marine life companions.
  • “Life is a Balancing Act” by Cindy Debold (5 feet): A bronze girl in a leotard balancing on a rock with her arms outstretched and eyes closed.
  • “No Swimming” by Oleg Lobykin (12 feet): A shark’s dorsal fin of shiny aluminum leaf on glass fiber reinforced concrete over foam.
  • “Contender II” by John Merigian (13 feet, 3 inches): A leggy stick figure of welded corten steel.
  • “Cosmic Glints” by Patricia Vader (12 feet): A kinetic sculpture that resembles a lollipop with bicycle wheels spinning around its head. It was created by the same artist who made the 2015 selection “Sunflower,” which was damaged during a storm and had to be removed.
  • “In Affioramento” by Brunivo Buttarelli (9 feet, 4 inches): A steel rib cage and marble spine emerging from the earth.
  • “Stainless Heart Edition Three” by Paul Kuniholm (6 feet): A riveted steel heart.

The public will have more opportunities to comment during a judging panel meeting Aug. 23, the Arts Commission’s regular meeting Sept. 14 — when the commission will approve its recommendations to the City Council — and the City Council meeting Sept. 26, when the council will approve the final selected works and alternates.

Sculptures created by artists from across the nation are selected to sit in the park for two years on a rotating schedule. The sculptures for the third phase of the project will be installed in October, and the sculptures from the second phase will be removed in September.

The first two phases installed 10 works each. For this round, the 10th slot, on direction from the City Council, will be filled by the city-owned Ronald Reagan statue that is currently on display at Bonita Canyon Sports Park. The statue was created by recently seated Arts Commission member Miriam Baker, who plans to recuse herself from future discussions on where to place it.

hillary.davis@latimes.com

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