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Del Mar is considering Isamu Noguchi's sculpture "Octetra," pictured above, as one of three finalists for a public art installation in the Civic Center. Photo courtesy of Art SG
Del Mar is considering Isamu Noguchi's "Octetra," pictured above, as one of three finalists for a public art installation in the Civic Center. Photo courtesy of Art SG
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Del Mar seeks public input on new sculpture at Civic Center

DEL MAR — The Del Mar Civic Center will soon be home to a new public art installation, and the city’s Arts Advisory Committee is asking for the public’s help in making a final selection.

Committee members have selected three sculpture “finalists” from a pool of 18 pieces of various styles, sizes and materials from internationally-renowned artists based on local design standards and the suitability for the Civic Center’s outdoor plaza site.

At the City Council’s April 3 meeting, committee chair Bonnie Grossman shared the three sculptures that had been chosen for further consideration.

They are “Celeste,” an all-white spiraling steel piece by Carol Bove, and two pieces by acclaimed 20th-century sculptor Isamu Noguchi; “Octetra,” a pyramid of three bright-red geometric structures made from fiberglass and plastic; and “Play Sculpture,” a red circular piece made of curving steel tubes.

“As the committee, we sort of felt it was our responsibility to narrow down the selection based on all the criteria that we felt would have the best chance of being the most appropriate for the site and pleasing the most people,” Grossman said.

Sculptor Isamu Noguchi's "Play Sculpture" is also a finalist for the Del Mar Civic Center public art installation. Courtesy photo/San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Sculptor Isamu Noguchi’s “Play Sculpture” is also a finalist for a public art installation at Del Mar Civic Center. Courtesy photo/San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Over the next two months, community members will have the chance to view images of the sculpture finalists and provide their feedback in multiple ways, including an online and printed survey and a to-be-scheduled community town hall.

Information about the sculptures and the survey link will also be shared online and potentially via a booth at the Del Mar Farmers Market on Saturdays, officials said.

Survey responses will be gathered by city staff and, along with input from the Design Review Board, will be passed to the City Council, which will make the final sculpture selection.

The three options vary in price, with the Noguchi works costing between $175,000 and $250,000 and Bove’s 15-foot-long “Celeste” coming in at $500,000.

Del Mar Foundation leaders said they are able to provide funding for at least the two Noguchi options. Along with the foundation, a private citizen has expressed interest in contributing toward the sculpture, including its acquisition, transportation and installation, according to city officials.

“It’s very exciting — we’re standing in line to get a piece of internationally-recognized art at a quarter of a million dollars without the city having to spend a penny,” said Councilmember Dwight Worden.

There are currently seven permanent outdoor sculptures in Del Mar, three of which can be found at the public library. Betty Wheeler, former Del Mar Foundation president, said getting the public’s input on multiple pieces is a novel process for the city.

Carol Bove's "Celeste" is another finalist for the Del Mar Civic Center's public art installation. Photo by Timothy Schenck
Carol Bove’s “Celeste” is another finalist for the Del Mar Civic Center’s public art installation. Photo by Timothy Schenck

“For all the permanent artworks that have been selected throughout Del Mar’s history, this is the first time there will be more than one option presented for public comment and review,” Wheeler said.

Councilmember Terry Gaasterland expressed some hesitation about the three sculptures the committee selected as finalists and said she would like to see the public have “none of the above” options when asked which one they like best.

“I do feel strongly that there was a lot of work, and looking into a wide array of things that could go into this area, they’re very different. The three that were selected … I do want to point out that they’re very similar,” Gaasterland said.

Staff agreed to add a “none of the above” option to the survey. However, Worden reminded fellow council members that the committee exists to make artistic judgments rather than the council themselves.

The public will also have additional chances to make public comments about the sculptures at the scheduled Design Review Board and City Council meetings.

At the request of Mayor Tracy Martinez, city staff said they could also erect story poles at the Civic Center ahead of the selection to demonstrate the size of the three sculptures.

A slideshow of all 18 sculpture options, including the three finalists, can be found on the Arts Advisory Committee page at