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Now you see it, now you don't -- no, wait, you do!

January 30, 2009 |  5:51 pm


It didn’t take long for at least one resident of Culver City to view a public sculpture as something other than art.

Culver City officials this afternoon reinstalled a California Biennial artwork that mistakenly had been removed from the northeast corner of Washington Boulevard and Marcasel Avenue, said a representative from LAXART.

Lauri Firstenberg, the guest curator of the California Biennial, said she had received a call from the city Thursday afternoon about the removal of Jedediah Caesar's "Gleaners Stone," a 92-by-44-by-30-inch rectangle consisting of resin, pigment and debris.

"My reaction was shock and concern for the artist," Firstenberg said. "He was so delighted about his first public sculpture."

The project initially was installed Jan. 23 as part of the Orange County Museum of Art's California Biennial off-site projects and is presented by LAXART’s Public Art Initiatives with the City of Culver City and ForYourArt.

Firstenberg said city officials told her a resident ordered street maintenance to remove the sculpture, but she couldn’t provide an answer on the rationale.

City officials were able to retrieve the sculpture, she said.

Christine Byers, Culver City’s public art and historic preservation coordinator, didn’t return calls for comment, as city offices are closed today. Caesar couldn’t be reached for comment, either.

This year’s installment of the California Biennial, running through March 15, is the largest in the show’s 24-year history, and includes more than 100 works in painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, installation, film, video and performance, plus public projects such as murals, posters and billboards. More than 50 artists contributed work, up from 31 in 2006.

Although it isn't uncommon for public art to provoke controversy, Firstenberg suspects this case was just an accident.

"It’s an issue of misperception of what the object is," she said. "There was disappointment that it was gone, but relief that the sculpture is intact. The whole point is for people to see the art and interact with it."

  --Mark Medina

Photo courtesy of LAXART