10 more sculptures headed to Newport’s Civic Center Park

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Newport Beach is kicking off the second phase of its sculpture exhibit in Civic Center Park to the chagrin of some residents, who say the artwork makes the park look like a junkyard.

Resident Barry Allen pointed out “Mama Crusty,” a 650-pound sculpture of a crab made from recycled car parts that is slated for placement on a hill overlooking MacArthur Boulevard.

Utah artist Tim Little created the shell of the crab from the rusted hood of a classic car. Its eyes are made of reused car lights, and recycled motorcycle mufflers form eight metallic legs.


The work is a prime example of what shouldn’t be on display at the park, Allen said.

“How anyone could describe this as being whimsical — this is hideous,” Allen said. “It’s beastly and scary-looking. Small children and even sensitive adults are going to have nightmares.”

After about an hour of discussion and public comments, the City Council voted 6-0 on Tuesday to add “Mama Crusty” and nine other sculptures to the 10 pieces of art already on display at Civic Center Park. Councilman Marshall “Duffy” Duffield was absent.

The new works are expected to be installed by the fall.

In August 2013, the council asked the city Arts Commission to implement a temporary sculpture exhibit in the 14-acre park and set an annual budget of $125,000 for the project. A handful of residents at the time were perplexed by the first round of selections.

The park, between Avocado Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard, will be home to the 10 new sculptures for the next two years. The 10 pieces installed last year will remain for another year.

The latest additions run the gamut from a yellow sunflower modeled like a windmill with its petals rotating in the breeze to a sailboat that pays homage to Herman Melville’s classic novel “Moby Dick.”

Councilman Keith Curry said the selections make an “impressive array of sculptures.”

“I think it’s going to enhance our community,” he said. “It’s going to create discussion, and for those that don’t like it, in two years there will be an entirely different group out there.”

A committee of local art experts and arts commissioners chose the latest works from among 81 entries from 43 states and two foreign countries. The Arts Commission approved them in June.

Resident John Anderson told the council that the sculpture garden seems out of place in the park.

“[It] creates a visual hodgepodge — a chaotic junkyard — which diminishes the aesthetic value of both the individual sculptures and their nature-like park setting,” he wrote in comments to the council.

Carmen Smith, president of the Newport Beach Arts Foundation, said the project has attracted a variety of guests to the park in the past year and that she expects the new additions to draw more.

“No, we’re not all going to like every piece, that’s for sure,” she said. “I don’t like every piece, but I can still explain the thinking process the artist had when they created the piece, and that’s all we can do.”