Burbank officials and the artists behind a new public art project at Lincoln Park said this week they hope the new pieces inspire and remind park-goers of the city’s legacy.
After three years of planning and development, the project, called “The Hats,” was ready to be unveiled to the community on Tuesday.
Officials held a ceremony at Lincoln Park, which is just behind the Buena Vista Branch Library at 300 N. Buena Vista St.
Created by Michael Davis and Eugene Daub, the project features three hats, each representing Burbank in some way.
There’s a top hat made of weathering steel — a metal material that has a rust-like appearance — representing President Abraham Lincoln and the former Lincoln Elementary school on the site before it was converted into Buena Vista Library and Lincoln Park.
Just a few steps away is a large straw hat made of reinforced fiberglass and decorated with tiles that hearken back to Burbank’s agricultural heritage.
Another sculpture is a metal piece cast to look like Amelia Earhart’s pilot helmet. The famous aviator was known to fly in and out of what is now Hollywood Burbank Airport.
“This project has kind of been festering for quite some time, but I think we hit a home run ... and we’re excited about that,” said Judie Wilke, the city’s parks and recreation director.
The project was originally approved by the City Council in December 2015.
However, it stalled when council members at the time rejected preliminary plans and wanted something that would better represent the city and neighborhood, said Gordon Haines, chair of the Burbank Art in Public Places Committee.
Though there were minor setbacks, city officials and the artists said they are happy to see the culmination of the project.
“This represents a new chapter in the kind of art that we like to feature here in Burbank,” Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy said.
While the three hats are art pieces, Davis and Daub said each sculpture was designed to have some type of interactive component.
The brim of the top hat also serves as a place where people can sit. In addition to that, etched into the brim is the opening sentence of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
The straw hat’s wide brim is also a seating area. Around the crown of the hat is a tile mural, created by Elyse Pignolet and Sandow Birk, that shows Burbank’s agricultural past, highlighting the melon crops once grown in the city.
Rivets can be found throughout Earhart’s helmet, which represents the city’s aeronautical past when Lockheed built aircraft at what is now Hollywood Burbank Airport.
Additionally, the metal helmet has a cutout of Earhart’s Electra 10E plane near the top.
“Part of the original concept was to have them be interactive and tell a little story in a playful way,” Daub said.
When asked about which piece he likes the best, Davis said each sculpture has its own identity.
“Each one of these pieces seems to have that unique ability to transform itself and become a living piece,” Davis said. “We are just excited that the community has embraced the pieces.”