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‘Lunar Tides’ brings new wave of artistic beauty to Heisler Park

Artists Scott and Naomi Schoenherr at the site of their new public art creation, "Lunar Tides" in Heisler Park.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Heisler Park in Laguna Beach now has a stunning new piece of public art, compliments of a familiar source.

Laguna Beach artists Scott and Naomi Schoenherr have produced “Lunar Tides,” which now occupies the stage floor of the amphitheater in the park.

The work is full of detail that depicts some of the themes prominent in the couple’s projects, including natural cycles and nature’s creatures.

“I think we put a lot of details in that piece, so we hope that piece will provoke curiosity through all the details,” Naomi said. “Every time, probably, people come and visit, they see different things [and] discover stuff.”

In Lunar Tides, fish swim through both light and dark, demonstrating the space near the ocean’s surface and its floor.

There are also a couple of circular elements wrapped in seaweed that look like dreamcatchers at first glance. Scott, whose father, Allan, was an ecology professor at Fullerton College, said they are in fact references to the microbial elements of the ocean.

A crab and kelp are part of Scott and Naomi Schoenherr's "Lunar Tides" in Heisler Park.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Gears have been featured in other works of the Schoenherrs, and in “Lunar Tides,” one is set about the edge of the artwork, only partially displayed in the image. Depending on one’s perspective, it could be a moon phase, as Naomi pointed out.

“We were talking about bringing in science as reference,” Scott said. “Also, the cycles of the moon, and how we count up the days through … natural cycles.”

Natural elements, including constellations and all matter of sea creatures — lobsters, crabs and a school of fish — fill out the piece, which is about 12-feet in diameter. There are also latitude and longitude cut lines.

The public art project was commissioned by the city, and it also received the benefit of a private donation. Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Manager Sian Poeschl said the city contributed $29,000 for the project, and John Wolfe donated $25,000.

The artists said that the project was too large in scale to be completed on a table. It was put together on the floor of their Laguna Canyon studio over the course of two years.

Using a combination of ceramics, stone and stainless steel, Scott, 59, said “Lunar Tides” came together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Spiny lobsters, kelp and a lunar moon cycle are part of Scott and Naomi Schoenherr's new public art piece, "Lunars Tides."
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Despite its scale, the artwork fits into its surroundings. Scott said they made a point of including colors that would not overwhelm, in his own words, “the language of the park.”

Scott and Naomi, 54, met in college at the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles. They said they got married in 1990 and were working together even before that.

“We’ve been working together for so long, and we know each other’s weakness and strong points, and we just kind of learned to utilize that,” Naomi said.

Scott also indicated the working relationship is a healthy one, saying, “[Naomi is] really good at the organization of it, and I’m completely scatterbrained when it comes to putting something together like that. I wouldn’t even approach a public art project without her.”

Heisler Park is home to several art installations by the Schoenherrs, which Naomi said began with an open-call opportunity to create works that interpreted a poem. The poem, “Sparkle (Giggle Crack),” was written by Shelly Cooper for the park, said Poeschl.

“‘Lunar Tides’ has been, and will be in the future, a location where people will gather once more, for Sunset Serenade and World Music concerts, and when we do, the stage will come alive,” Poeschl said in a statement.

The Laguna Beach Arts Commission will host a virtual dedication of “Lunar Tides” on Thursday, Feb. 25, at 4:30 p.m. The artists will join the Arts Commission to discuss the artwork, and a video message will be delivered by Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen.

Visitors take in Scott and Naomi Schoenherr's "Lunar Tides.
Visitors take in Scott and Naomi Schoenherr’s new public art installation in Heisler Park, “Lunar Tides.”
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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