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Balboa Island sculptor wins Reagan statue commission

A local woman will sculpt the statue of President Ronald Reagan that the Newport Beach City Council commissioned, now that the city manager has selected her among a group of artists.

Miriam Baker, a Balboa Island resident, already sculpted a Reagan statue at Chapman University and was best qualified among the dozen or so artists who applied, officials said.

“She’s very well-respected and an esteemed artist-sculptor in our area,” said Robyn Grant, chair of the city Arts Commission, which recommended that City Manager Dave Kiff choose Baker.

Including the Reagan sculpture, Baker has made nearly 20 busts of local and national figures that dot the Chapman campus in Orange.


“It is great that we have that kind of talent in our own backyard,” Kiff wrote in an e-mail.

In February, a divided council voted to let Kiff chose the sculptor — a deviation from the normal process to commission the city’s public art.

Kiff said he has not yet chosen the exact location of the piece, which is planned to be at Castaways Park.

—Mike Reicher