Completed in 1982, this 1.6-acre quiet retreat by the world-renown Isamu Noguchi is one of the most important large outdoor sculptures in Southern California. Six elements of the state’s landscape are depicted along with 15 granite rocks composed to form “The Spirit of the Lima Bean,” an homage to the land’s agricultural heritage. Commissioned by Henry Segerstrom and the Segerstrom Family.
One of Southern California’s best-kept secrets is an art walk in Costa Mesa featuring contemporary and modern works by internationally renowned sculptors. The sculptures are integral to the vision of the Segerstrom family, founders of South Coast Plaza, of creating a cosmopolitan center in Orange County where the arts and commerce come together and flourish.
Spend a morning or afternoon exploring this incomparable public art collection.
The closest parking structure to the beginning of the art walk is the Plaza Tower Parking structure located on Anton Boulevard and Park Center Drive. Enter via Park Center Drive, across from The Westin South Coast Plaza.
The closest parking to the end of the art walk is the parking lot right outside of Macy’s or the South Parking Structure at South Coast Plaza. Parking in either of these locations is free.
Park and exit the Plaza Tower parking structure onto Park Center Drive. Head down Park Center Drive and cross Anton Boulevard. Pass Specialty’s Café and turn left on the palm tree-lined path. Continue walking and you are at the edge of 1 California Scenario.
1. California Scenario
Head past Spirit of the Lima Bean. To the right of the Comerica Bank building just before TGI Fridays is 2 Sun Ribbon.
2. Sun Ribbon
With its artfully orchestrated stripes, Claire Falkenstein’s stained glass windscreen creates a playful counterpoint to the solemn vertical rise of the adjacent buildings. The horizontal bands of sunset hues convey continuity, while the staggered vertical lines lend a jaunty spirit. Falkenstein is known for her massive glass and metal sculptures related to architecture.
Passing TGI Fridays, walk toward Anton Boulevard. Once you’re on the corner of Anton Boulevard and Avenue of the Arts, cross the street and turn left, walking north on Anton Boulevard. Make a right turn after passing Park Tower sign right before Pizzeria Ortica. Walk straight. Before reaching Samueli Theater, you will arrive at 3 Utsurohi 91.
3. Utsurohi 91
Aiko Miyawaki created a set of twelve ten-foot columns in an elliptical configuration with chromium-plated steel “threads” intertwining in graceful patterns from the top of each column. On the interior surface of each column, a small rectangle displays a glossy relief image depicting one of twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, each identified in Latin and Chinese. Utsurohi means swift change.
Pass Utsurohi 91 and Samueli Theater and head toward Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The 4 Connector will be on your right. Go inside Connector.
Its name suggests the intrinsic bond among all forms of art. This 65-foot, 360-ton sculpture is an iconic example of Richard Serra’s colossal vertical works of steel. Five torqued plates were fabricated in Siegen, Germany, shipped to California and assembled on site. The spacious base narrows to a four-foot pentagonal aperture at the top, with an ever-changing view of the sky. Meant to be viewed from the outside and inside, Connector naturally invites interaction and brings people together, with two openings big enough for visitors to enter. Commissioned by Henry and Elizabeth Segerstrom.
Walk away from Avenue of the Arts toward the entrance of Segerstrom Hall, which will be on your right. Once you reach the front of the center, you will be underneath 5 Firebird. For a closer look, take the spiral staircase up to the second level of the center.
Richard Lippold’s 60-foot tall sculpture appears to be suspended in the air, integrated seamlessly in the interior and exterior of Segerstrom Hall, ready to soar. Lippold conceived of his works as objects in space, which he developed from a Constructivist model. He was devoted to pure geometry, seeing it as a metaphor of the universe and its philosophical mystique. Named after Igor Stravinsky’s famous ballet, the sculpture is made of gold, silver and red aluminum and stainless steel.
Once on the second level, head toward the Center Tower Parking Structure. On your right, you will find 6 Reclining Figure.
6. Reclining Figure
This stately sculpture exemplifies Henry Moore’s mature work. By designing the void in the mass, he calls attention to the bronze’s three-dimensional qualities and the space around them. Realistic hands on an abstract figure whose legs are without feet suggest that realism and abstraction are part of the same continuum.
Head down the ramp across from Reclining Figure. On the right, you will be able to spot 7 Jonah and the Whale down below.
7. Jonah and the Whale
In this interpretation of the biblical story of the same name, Jonah looks surprised as he is ejected from the mouth of his captor. This sculpture is an example of Carl Milles’ mastery of motion using water and bronze. Water spews from the whale and surrounding fish, adding to the dynamic energy of the scene. This work is a rarity on the West Coast, as most of Milles’ sculptures are in the Midwest, East Coast and his native Sweden.
Continue down the ramp and enter Center Tower. In the lobby, you will find 8 Oiseau.
Bulbous dimensions and spiky projections lend Joan Miró’s bronze bird a fantastical presence. A surrealist, Miró is known for such fanciful abstractions, blending invention with the spirit of nature. Enormous, three-dimensional works that he created before the end of his prodigious career seem to transform the strange personages in his earlier paintings into physically imposing characters.
Take one of the three elevators to the left of Oiseau down to the C level of the building. Once you reach the C level, you will find 9 Fermi.
Tony Smith pays homage to Enrico Fermi, the Nobel Prize-winning Italian physicist, who investigated quantum theory and atomic structure. The balls and connecting bonds in this work resemble the particles of an atom. Fermi suggests the synergy between the complex structure of things and uncomplicated elegance of a simple and handsome form. The sculpture stands out as one of only two Smith works made of Carrara marble.
Take the elevators back up to the lobby level and exit Center Tower the way you entered. Turn right and walk down the ramp toward the intersection of Park Center Drive and Town Center Drive. Turn right onto Park Center Drive and walk toward the wooden bench. Before reaching the bench, turn right and you will find 10 Four Lines Oblique Gyratory-Square IV moving with the wind.
10. Four Lines Oblique Gyratory-Square IV
George Rickey takes the wind as his partner and uses real movement in this perfectly balanced kinetic work. Those who stop to observe the interaction between nature and this sculpture will see that the shaft and the Y-shaped branches of the slender pole rotate, while four bars shift and constantly reposition themselves and rearrange the space between them. Rickey’s art does not imitate nature but moves in concert with it.
From Four Lines Oblique Gyratory- Square IV, walk back to Park Center Drive. Head back to the intersection of Park Center Drive and Town Center Drive. Cross Town Center Drive, past Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Continue past South Coast Repertory, and on your right you will see 11 Night Shift.
11. Night Shift
This sculpture by Jim Huntington appears to break the smooth contours of the gently rolling parkland, but looks organic to the setting, as if it had been there long before the buildings near it were built. The harmony of Night Shift with the landscape is consistent with Huntington’s sensibility. A rectangular plate of polished steel slices through the top of the large granite, echoing the surrounding environment — a combination of the natural and the manmade.
Continue down the concrete path toward the brightest structure in sight 12 The Ram.
12. The Ram
The title of this undulating sculpture suggests that artist Charles O. Perry was inspired by animal horns, but the level of abstraction transcends the reference to nature. Rising from the ground with a slant, the 20-foot, 7-ton bright yellow steel figure curls down, back up and down. It appears to rearrange itself into various configurations when observed from various angles. Seen from one side, the loop appears to spin off the tall base. Viewed from another, it curves neatly against a triangular spire.
Enter Park Tower through the glass doors located to the left of Vaca. Once inside, turn left and in the elevator lobby you will find 13 Tour Aux Jambes.
13. Tour Aux Jambes
The title is loosely translated as “Encirclement of Limbs” or “Tower of Legs.” Either way, the name clarifies Jean Dubuffet’s theme of building a monolithic structure from entwined elements. The white column is made of epoxy and polyurethane — its numerous contours emphasized by heavily outlined areas filled in with blue, red or black pigment or with stripes in blue or red. The sculpture is part of Dubuffet’s Hourloupe cycle, a prolific period during which he created numerous works in a palette of white, red, blue and black.
Exit the building in the way you entered and head toward Unity Bridge. Cross the bridge and enter South Coast Plaza. Head past Victoria’s Secret toward Carousel Court. Make a right and head toward Macy’s. Once you’ve reached the balcony between Harry Winston and Cartier, you will find yourself in Jewel Court. Look up and view the 14 Jewel Court Dome.
14. Stained Glass Dome
The kaleidoscope-like stained glass dome above Jewel Court at South Coast Plaza was designed by artist Marion Sampler and built by Judson Studios. The magnificent skylight, which measures 30 feet in diameter and is made of 7,200 pieces of glass, changes in color intensity as day turns into night. A site-specific commission, the dome gave Jewel Court its name. It is one of the most photographed features of South Coast Plaza and can be viewed by the public from two levels.
To return to the Plaza Tower parking structure, exit the shopping center through the exit in between Bloomingdale’s and Seasons 52. Head toward Bristol Street on Anton Boulevard. Cross Park Center Drive and turn left. You will be at the entrance of the parking structure.
NEPTUNE WATER SPOUTS
The Olympian god of the sea is an apt choice for artist Betty Davenport Ford’s elaborate waterworks, Neptune Water Spouts. Outside of the lobby of The Westin South Coast Plaza are seven identical ceramic Neptune heads spouting water into the pools below.
Located behind the lobby of The Westin South Coast Plaza.
The three pieces, “The Story Teller,” “Upstage/Downstage” and “Herald,” were designed by Jason Meadows. Meadows created this trio especially for South Coast Repertory, with the intention of bringing the theater into the outdoors. These pink, purple, blue and silver sculptures not only invite the audience to continue their theatrical experience, but also provide patrons with a place to sit on sunny days.
Located at South Coast Repertory
Four stories above the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall lobby is a stunning piece of architectural jewelry. Three hundred individual strands of highly polished stainless-steel form a circular pattern 40-feet in diameter. The strands are in graduated lengths, the longest reaching 40 feet. The combination of elements results in an intense sparkle that is reflected in the polished surfaces and glass.
Located in the lobby of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.
THE BRIDGE OF GARDENS
Spanning Bear Street to connect South Coast Plaza’s Crate and Barrel/Macy’s Home Store Wing to the east side of the Plaza. The Bridge of Gardens is constructed of stainless and galvanized steel, with a partially covered canopy. Designed by Kathryn Gustafson, a Paris-educated landscape designer and environmental artist