Here, the arts take center stage
COSTA MESA, CALIF.
Located 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles and 15 minutes from Newport Beach, Costa Mesa has been dubbed the City of the Arts. It's a magical, art-filled cultural and even shopping mecca - from its Orange County Performing Arts Center and South Coast Repertory theater complex to many outdoor sculptures and its world-class "anti-mall."Skip to next paragraph
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Start your visit to the city by retreating from life in the fast lane at Isamu Noguchi's California Scenario sculpture garden, an island of tranquility. As visitors enter the garden of streams, waterfalls, mountains, and redwoods, they become part of the art-space environment reflected in the glass exteriors of the surrounding high-rise office buildings.
To portray his "dramatic abstract" of California's ecosystems, the artist has created six areas that he aptly named Energy Fountain, Water Source, Water Use, the Desert Land, the Forest Walk, and Land Use.
The Energy Fountain embodies the vitality of California with its metal wind sock perched atop an eruption of water gushing down a stainless-steel cone into a base of Rockville granite.
Rising alongside a white Sierra granite pathway to a bench, a redwood forest borders the small hillock of wildflowers and grasses of the Forest Walk. The long curving blades of grass flow round the specks of floral color, which change seasonally.
From the bench you can view the Desert Land across the garden, a circular mound planted with native California desert plants.
In Water Source, a 30-foot mountain waterfall representing the water source for the state cascades with a soothing sound, branching into the flowing meandering river below, studded with boulders to suggest rocky streams.
The thin rock borders of Water Use widen as the water flows toward the ocean, symbolic of the creation of rich topsoil as the stream carries earth along its way.
The harnessing of natural forces is depicted in Land Use, an eight-foot-high pyramid of white Sierra granite.
But a favorite for young climbers is the pile of 15 rounded granite boulders, a whimsical homage to his patron, Henry Segerstrom, which Noguchi christened the Spirit of the Lima Bean. It symbolizes the half-century of agricultural use of the land the family donated for the garden.
The sculptural elements reflect the changing natural light that bounces off the windows of surrounding buildings, creating magical mountain landscapes rising as a backdrop above desert scenes. At night, shadows of mountains, wrought by spotlights, play against the stark white wall enveloping the garden, inviting fanciful finger caricatures.
At the nearby Orange County Performing Arts Center, a backstage tour (presented by docents on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10 a.m.) guides visitors through the dynamics of the 3,000-seat hall, inaugurated 18years ago.
A privately funded venture, built upon the five acres of former lima-bean fields donated by the Segerstrom family (who also own the South Coast Plaza shopping resort), the center is a venue for concerts - from classical to jazz, from Broadway shows to operas and ballets.