A whale of a tale

Visitors to Laguna often see the migration of whales passing along the city's shores, but one whale moved from Third Street to Heisler Park.

The City Council decided last year that the oceanfront park was a more appropriate site for a 16-foot-tall sculpture of a breaching whale than a busy downtown street. The sculpture will dedicated at 5 p.m., as a prelude to the Thursday Art Walk on July 7.

"It's magnificent," said Arts Commission Chairwoman Mary Ferguson. "The installation of the sculpture standing alone at the base of the new amphitheater couldn't be better."

The sculpture was completed a year ago by sculptor Jon Seeman, but the installation of the stainless steel and COR-TEN steel "Breaching Whale" in the park was delayed by renovations, which include the new amphitheater.

"It is near Rockpile Beach, looking northward to the ocean," said city Arts Manager Sian Poeschl.

The sculpture was originally recommended in 2009 by the Arts Commission for installation in front of the Third Street Centers as the fulfillment of the Arts in Public Places requirement for the centers.

In an unexpected action, the council withheld its approval, not of the art, but of the art's suitability for the designated site.

Arts Commissioner Pat Kollenda said the sculpture had been designed and selected specifically for the centers.

However, some of the council members felt the proposed site was too crowded and busy to do the sculpture justice. An alternative site was suggested.

Artist Patricia Turnier was appalled.

"You should take the recommendation of the Arts Commission," she said. "That's what they are there for."

Appointed commissions and boards are advisors to the council, which makes the final decision on the recommendations.

Cost of the commission and the installation totaled $115,000.

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