Now you can get aerobic and aesthetic at the same time. The city of Brea’s Art in Public Places program has created one of the largest outdoor public sculpture collections in the nation. And the best way to see the collection of more than 100 works is by bicycle.
EARLY MORNING: 1
Pick up a copy of “Art in Public Places: A Self-Guided Tour Through the City of Brea” ($4) at the community center, civic center or gallery. (The community center is open most often; if the gallery is open, view the latest exhibit.) The elaborate pamphlet includes a photograph of each public sculpture and a locater map.
Note, however, that no precise addresses are given, and the map’s locater numbers are approximate; further complicating matters is that many works are set back from the road. In fact, the tour often has the feeling of a treasure hunt.
(Also note that ogling and driving just don’t mix; much more of the collection can be seen, more easily and far more safely, by bicycle.)
The map outlines three tours. Depending on your stamina, choose the West Side Tour or East Side Tour, each at least six miles, or a Highlight Tour featuring the best of both. Or you can combine the two smaller tours in their entirety.
Another option is reserved for groups of 10 or more with their own bus or minivan: Cultural Arts Commission chairman Roy Moore will serve as a docent for free; Moore’s tours last one hour.
All tours start at the City of Brea Civic and Cultural Center. There you can see “Hermandad,” a gift from the people of Lagos de Morena, Mexico, to its sister city, by Lagos native Carlos Terres, and “Breaking Free” by Marton Varo of Irvine, which shows a female figure emerging from a block of marble.
Whichever way you head from there, many of the settings will be shopping centers or corporate or industrial parks, often unabashedly reflected in the art. The artist listed for the “Suzuki Fountain” in front of the Suzuki Motor Corp. building is the Steeber Construction Co.; the concrete relief designs suggest the thrills of motorcycle riding. The 30-foot-high stainless steel “Heat Exchanger” by the late Harold Pastorius is inspired by industrial structures. “Early Oil Derrick” (artist: SGPA/Magnum Sign Co.) recalls Brea’s beginnings as an oil-boom town.
The city requires major developers to spend 1% of their costs on art; the resulting collection now numbers 107. Among recent additions, “California Dream” (at Central and Tamarack avenues) by Terry Thornsley of Seal Beach depicts sea lions swimming through kelp; “The Spirit of Life” (at Birch Street and Poplar Avenue) by Palm Springs artist John Kennedy shows a figure swinging a child.
Both were installed with extra security measures; the collection, it seems, is not completely set in stone. Two of its most popular pieces--"Doublecheck,” a bronze figure of a businessman reading a letter, by J. Seward Johnson Jr. of Washington, D.C., and “Golden California,” a statue of a grizzly bear by Santa Ana artist Robert Cunningham--were stolen two years ago. A new piece by Johnson may be forthcoming by fall.
BRUNCH OR LUNCH: 3
Your bicycle may not need fuel, but you likely will. Renaissance Bistro is near the start, and end, of each of the three tours. (You could do one tour, eat, then do another--then eat again!)
Baked goods include toasted cinnamon ciabatta bruschetta ($2.95). Egg dishes ($3.95-$6.95) come with rosemary-garlic potatoes, fruit and the cinnamon ciabatta. The roasted garlic artichoke dip ($7.95) finds artichoke hearts served hot with melted mozzarella and Parmesan. Baked brie ($8.95), presented with apples and vegetables, is enough for two. Or really load up on the carbs with capellini pomodoro fresco with blackened chicken, or penne with spicy sausage, grilled vegetables and kalamata olives (each $8.95).