An affection for public art

Art curator Carl Schlosberg is at it again, brightening up the summer landscape with new sculptures by Ed Benavente, Ken Bortolazzo and Bret Price.

Installed in public spaces all over Malibu’s Civic Center, the collection combines the humor of Benavente’s steel men, long-legged, big-footed stick figures and a great, green pedestrian inspired by the “Walk” symbol. Bortolazzo’s architectural constructs of polished stainless steel and Price’s brightly painted, sculptured steel tubes and spirals enrich dull parking lots, as well as garden shopping spots.

Reactions range from smiles to curiosity and sometimes dismay.

Schlosberg says there’s no place like Malibu for outdoor displays of art, and that it could not be done in Beverly Hills or Brentwood.

“The reality is, in order to avoid bureaucracy, I chose user-friendly, very cooperative landlords who gave me carte blanche,” he said. “It was only through their courtesy and lack of restrictions that I could put them where people go.”

The pieces were designed by the artists for specific sites, blending with the lush landscaping of the Malibu Racquet Club and jutting out prominently in the bare fields on Civic Center, Webb Way and Stuart Ranch Road, where they can be seen by motorists and bus riders. At Malibu Colony Plaza, shoppers and tourists pass six, two by each of the artists, and Michael Koss’ Malibu Country Mart, already home to several permanent sculptures installed over the past few years, has four new pieces.

“He bought that big piece of Benavente’s for the site two years ago and [Country Mart tenants] Malibu Lifestyles owners bought the granite fountain installed at the entrance, and Tra Di Noi has the classic reclining nude,” Schlosberg said. “Malibu is developing some permanent art for its public spaces. The city is enriched by that generosity.”

Jerry Seymour, Racquet Club manager, welcomed five sculptures to the beautifully landscaped entrance and gardens beside the dining patio and courts.

Malibu Bay Co. made three sites available for the exhibit, including the field where three of Francois Lalanne’s steel-and-cement sheep appear to graze. (See related story, Page A1.)

“We think the sculpture exhibits are an asset to the community. It helps stimulate people’s interest in art, and it’s a wonderful cultural resource to have this art displayed in prominent places in the community,” said David Reznick of Malibu Bay Co.

“Little by little, Malibu is getting a collection of public art that enhances the visual and spiritual life of its inhabitants and visitors,” Schlosberg said. “One of the messages it sends is that we care, somebody cares. Someone has installed something beautiful and left an unspoken and unwritten message.”

Schlosberg will personally conduct tours on three weekends, meeting in front of Coogie’s. “We’ll use a van or caravan depending on how many people want to go,” he said. “I’d love to walk, it but it might be too far for some people.”

All of the artists have smaller works on exhibit at Schlosberg’s Malibu Road home. Viewing is by appointment only.

Schlosberg says, “Maybe another piece of art will remain after the exhibit ends in August.”

Tours of the summer exhibition begin Sat. and Sun. at 11 a.m. and continue July 10, 11 and July 24, 25. Weekday viewing by appointment. Call 310.456.8687.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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