‘Pyramidion’ encourages its viewers to interact with, observe Laguna Beach’s natural features
The seaside community of Laguna Beach does not lack for visitors, but earlier this month, it had several the public was keen to interact with, and then they left without a trace.
Kelly Berg, a Los Angeles-based artist, created seven pyramid-shaped sculptures for her exhibit “Pyramidion,” an outdoor display that was featured as part of Laguna Art Museum’s Art and Nature Festival.
Varying in size from 20 inches to 6 feet tall, Berg had the pyramids placed throughout Heisler Park and Main Beach to show the different natural elements along the Laguna Beach coastline — from trees and the cliffside to evident erosion.
As portable as the artwork itself, Berg carries her past with her. Growing up in Minnesota, she spent a lot of time outdoors, and she soon gained a fascination for natural phenomena.
Berg’s sculptures were made with a color-shifting, reflective surface in automotive vinyl.
“I’m very much interested in the ever-shifting nature of our worlds, and I’m very drawn to places where that’s very evident,” Berg said. “In Laguna, there’s erosion, the ocean is constantly changing, even the rocks look different every time I come, so I really wanted to reflect that in the materials of the sculptures.”
The ability to pick up and take her artwork with her allows Berg to leave no trace, but she indicated that Laguna Beach has left a permanent imprint on her. The “Pyramidion” artist said one of her favorite stretches of the community is the drive into town from Laguna Canyon Road.
With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that the largest pyramid got placed at Main Beach, serving as both a gateway to the canyon on one side and using the expansive Pacific Ocean as its opposite.
“I love that journey through the canyon, seeing all of those rocks up on either side, just the light, even, that comes through that canyon,” Berg said. “I love the idea of coming into town and then seeing a Pyramidion where that canyon landscape and the town meets the beach and that endless horizon of the ocean.
“Each of these locations, I selected really carefully. I wanted the entire exhibition to be walkable because one of my inspirations [for my work], I actually would take hikes. That’s where I take photographs that I work from with my paintings.”
As an example, Berg added that the first time she placed pyramids in the landscape was during an artist residency in Joshua Tree.
Laguna Art Museum executive director Julie Perlin Lee described Berg’s work as a “visual treat” that made her think about how unstable her vision and light can be.
“That was the thing for me that I was just totally intrigued with is just how can we perceive something that it’s a shape, but then sometimes it’s flattened out because of the way the light hit it,” Perlin Lee said.
For the past decade, Laguna Art Museum has piqued the public’s curiosity about the surrounding natural world through its Art and Nature Festival.
The 10th annual event featured four exhibits, all of which will be on view at the museum through February. It included the return of Rebeca Méndez with a video art installation called “The Sea Around Us.” The UCLA design media arts professor also exhibited in the festival the year prior with “Any-Instant-Whatever,” a project that captured time-slice video of the Los Angeles sky.
Robert Young’s “The Big One,” a depiction of an underwater scene believed to be the largest painting ever created in Laguna Beach, and “Five Summer Stories: The Exhibition” are also on view at the museum. The latter represents a collaboration with the Coast Film Festival, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the “Five Summer Stories” surf documentary.
Two of Berg’s pyramid sculptures will also remain at the museum into next year.
Perlin Lee said the museum made a big push to spread the news about the festival, including connecting with the Laguna Beach Unified School District.
“We served more than 11,000 people in those four days, and probably a lot more,” Perlin said of the Art and Nature Festival, which ran from Nov. 3 to Nov. 6. “… That’s a huge, huge thing for us, so we’re super excited. Just to put that into perspective, that’s a little less than half the people we saw all of last year.”
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