Location:#11 It is the public park between 3200 Park Center Drive and 611 Anton Boulevard
“California Scenario,” is a 1.6 acre environment by Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi. His quiet retreat is regarded as on of the most important sculptures in Southern California, and it has few equals across the country. Originally asked to create a sculpture for a rectangular garden, bordered by two high-rise banks and a parking structure, Noguchi refused but said he wanted to design the entire plaza. Fortunately, the developers of South Coast Plaza, the Segerstrom family, accepted Noguchi’s proposal. Instead of gaining a single piece by one of the country’s leading artists, Costa Mesa acquired a reflective environment that unifies and humanizes its surroundings.
Noguchi has combined several kinds of granite with sandstone, metal, water, earth, vegetation and unseen plumbing in his “California Scenario” garden. We can stroll on its paths, climb its hill, listen to its rushing water, cross its bubbling stream, wonder at its striking geometric forms or absorb its varied sights while resting on benches.
Though the seasons have relatively little impact on Southern California, the plaza changes its appearance with light conditions and with the maturity of its plantings. Noguchi’s work also appears to expand and contract, depending upon our viewpoint. The two sides of the garden framed by glass bank buildings reflect parts of the plaza, thus enlarging its influence and softening the stark architecture. When we approach “California Scenario” through the Central Bank building, we see only a startling view of “The Desert Land,” framed mirage-like in the doorway. Continuing our approach, we soon discover that the desert is but a mound within a complex landscape.
Part of the beauty and the timeless value of “California Scenario” is the multiple readings it offers. Just when we have seen it all, it presents a new face to its audience. All of its aspects, however, address Noguchi’s intention of wedding art to nature and of ameliorating urban stress with aesthetic vision. In Costa Mesa, he has tempered the sharp edges, slick surfaces and intimidating scale of modern architecture and slowed the hectic pace of urban life with a peaceful retreat of endless possibilities.
Isamu Noguchi - California Scenario
Bio: (1904 -1988) Los Angeles, California. Isamu Noguchi was born to an American writer, Leonie Gilmour, and a Japanese poet, Noguchi Yonejiro. He was a notable 20th century artist and landscape architect. In 1906 he moved with his mother to join his father in Japan, where he spent the rest of his childhood. In 1918 he was sent to the United States for schooling. He graduated from La Porte High School in La Porte, Indiana in 1922.
In 1924 Noguchi dropped out of Columbia University to pursue sculpture full-time. In the ensuing years he gained in prominence and acclaim, leaving his large-scale works in many of the world’s major cities.
His works are not limited to sculptures and gardens. He designed stage sets for various Martha Graham productions. He designed some mass-produced objects such as lamps and furniture some of which are still manufactured and sold today. Among his furniture work was his collaboration with the Herman Miller Company in 1948 when he joined with George Nelson, Paul Laszl6 and Charles Eames to produce a catalog containing what is often considered to be the most influential body of modern furni\ure. His work lives on around the world and at the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum in New York City.
His final project was the design of a 400-acre (1.6 km2) park for Sapporo, Japan. Designed in 1988 shortly before his death, Moerenuma Park was completed and opened to the public in 2004.
The Piece: California Scenario is a 1.6 acre oasis that simulates assorted California environments. Its location is within Pacific Arts Plaza. The garden environment creates a captivating retreat in the midst of reflective, high-rise office towers. Framed by two reflective-glass towers this unusual artistic gateway is considered one of the most important outdoor sculptures in the country. Noguchi combined stone, granite rocks, water, metal, earth and native California plant materials into a unique outdoor sculpture environment that depicts his interpretation of the Southern California landscape. The complexity of the garden’s design and its scope have garnered praise as one of the most artistically noteworthy outdoor sculpture gardens in Southern California.
Throughout the garden, Noguchi has incorporated essential elements that portray the range of California’S different ecosystems. These elements include “Energy Fountain,” “The Spirit of the Lima Bean”, sandstone paving, granite benches and areas aptly named the “Forest Walk” and “Desert Land.” Visiting the garden can elicit an awe inspiring appreciation for the vast breadth of nature that is found throughout California.
The artistic landscape scenario is a product of Noguchi’s view of garden as the “sculpture of space” and a means to make sculpture useful in everyday life. His garden sculptures offer an experience that surpasses that of individual sculpture appreciation as the viewer actually enters the art space and becomes part of the environment.
Another aspect of the beauty of California Scenario is the way its appearance reflects the changes of the natural light conditions and the maturation of its plants. These various garden elements bring a unity and humanity to the surroundings by replicating nature’s cycles. ‘We’re all a part of nature. Only as we enhance our closeness to it can we become more human.” Noguchi also noted, “If you become involved with ideas and work, it transcends the personal, and you are communicating with time and with people in the abstract and in the future, not for personal display. Then you have a kind of perspective which leaves you free from concern for personal applause.”
- Blake, Picasso, Roman mythology, Astronomy, fairy tales and socialist teachings influenced him.
- Isamu Noguchi was recognized by Harry Guggenheim in 1927 for his fellowship throughout Europe.