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Sculptures one step closer to home

Lola and Pierre, two sculptures that traveled thousands of miles, will soon make their home in Bluebird Canyon.

The Parisian pair, made by French sculptor Vincent Magni and donated to the city by the late Lew Geiser, will make their new home on a Laguna street corner after being approved at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

The sculptures had a rocky road to Laguna.

They were originally declined by the city’s Arts Commission last year, which determined that they wouldn’t be durable enough for the city’s coastal climate and may pose a safety hazard.


Geiser’s sister, Gay Geiser Sandoval, took her brother’s case to the City Council — the first time in recent history that an Arts Commission decision on artwork had been appealed.

The council unanimously overruled the commission and accepted the donation, tasking the commission with finding a location for the pieces. It selected the corner of Bluebird Canyon and Oriole Drives.

Lew Geiser died in his red-tagged Bluebird Canyon home on April 1; his home had the distinction of being the only residence affected by both the 1978 and 2005 landslides.

Arts Commission Chair Nancy Beverage explained the location decision at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.


“I think we have found a location that will ameliorate our concern,” she said. “It is sheltered from the weather and not in an area where a lot of children play.”

Lagunan Katy Moss, a longtime friend of Geiser, traveled to France last year to procure the sculptures after getting the official go-ahead.

“The trip went very well,” Moss said, although the actual pieces to be procured were in China for an exhibition. “I got to meet some of their sisters at the gallery, and they’re just charming.”

The sculptures have been at the Sandoval residence for the past month after traveling around the world. Sandoval said she’ll miss having her two “houseguests” around.

“They don’t make a fuss, they don’t make a mess and they’re not picky eaters,” she said on Monday, tongue firmly in cheek.

“I will say that I like them better than I thought I would; they’re really cute.”

The sculptures — a woman with a bird and a man with a violin — arrived shortly before Christmas, so her family adorned them with Santa hats; they rung in 2007 bedecked in New Year’s hats.

The pieces are named “Lola and the Bird” and “The Male Musician.” Sandoval’s family calls the latter “Pierre,” but she suggested that a naming contest could be held in the future.


The duo’s arrival from France was not very ceremonial.

“One day, UPS came with these two big boxes,” Sandoval said. The driver took them to the garage, and the family debated what to do with them. They eventually decided to let them stay inside the house.

“We had them separated at first, but they wanted to be together,” Sandoval said. “They probably don’t know the language here, so it’s better that they could talk together.”

The sculptures are designed to bend and encourage viewers to touch them, which was a sticking point for the Arts Commission, which deemed them “an attractive nuisance” at first but then agreed with the City Council that an appropriate site could be found for them.

The choice of sculptures was made by the Arts Commission in late September, but the council didn’t approve the Arts Commission’s decision until Tuesday.

The delay, plus the sculptures’ trip to China, meant that Moss and Sandoval had to initiate the purchase without knowing whether the council would approve the commission’s decision.

“So we had to put a deposit down and hope for the best,” Sandoval said. “The city seemed more likely to take them by the time they were coming back.”

Moss and Sandoval ensured that a certificate of authenticity and a warranty were provided to the city.


The trust also provided a $5,000 donation to cover installation, maintenance and repair, and had an extra protective coating applied to them to prevent rust in the sea air.

The city is next expected to solicit bids from companies to pour the sculpture pad; after a curing period, the sculptures will be installed.