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Public art series launches at Central Park

A new seating area at Central Park invites visitors to become part of a work of art.

Made of several metal tables, chairs and other elements that require a close look to figure out what they are — such as the material used for the legs of the chairs — “A Glendale Picnic” was unveiled on Saturday as a new public art installation, where onlookers can step into the artwork, have a seat or just look around.

The temporary display is the first piece in the “You Are Here” outdoor series, coordinated by nonprofit Art from the Ashes that will be running in Glendale through the end of the year.

Councilwoman Laura Friedman was at the installation’s ribbon cutting and spoke of the city’s commitment to art in public.

“More and more Glendale is showing that arts are a priority. They’re not just something you do when you have a little money left over,” she said. “They’re fundamental to our quality of life, they’re fundamental to the vitality of our city, they’re an economic development tool and we’re seeing that now being embraced by the city.”

South Dakota native Bridget Beck — now a Long Beach resident — spent two months forging materials together to give life to “A Glendale Picnic.”

She also etched a few hidden messages into the artwork.

Beck blends constructivism and surrealism in her work with the aim of engaging people and said she’s thankful she had the freedom she seldom has to work on community art pieces.

“The whole time I’ve been building this sculpture, they let me be the artist that I am, which is rare and very important to me and my career,” she said.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) was also in attendance and voiced his support for the public art series.

“There are very few cities across the U.S. and here in California that have public displays anymore or at all,” he said. “There are very few cities that make sure we keep our artistic culture alive.”

“A Glendale Picnic” will be on display for one year.

Up next in the “You Are Here” series in Glendale will be “Wings” by Collette Miller. It will debut at this year’s Glendale Cruise Night on July 18 and be moved around the city.

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