Monday, April 28, 2014

Mosaic Monday--Aquarium of the Pacific

A post from three years ago gives the history of the mosaic fountain outside the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, but today's post is on two other sorta mosaics inside the gates.

Still, here's the picture from the old post. The artists are from San Pedro: Theodora Kurkchiev and Dimitri Lazaroff.

The mosaic doesn't look like that now because the fountain has been turned off due to the drought. It's dry and unshiny--not nearly as pretty. Hopefully things will improve for all of us soon and the waters will flow . . .

Inside, near the children's playground, is the metal and glass piece of statuary on a mosaic base, titled "Not Seen, Not Heard, But Felt."

My picture on the left (below) leaves off a canopy top, also of glass, that represents the top of the ocean. I hadn't read about it in advance so I didn't realize that by focusing on the mosaic--which was added later--I was leaving off part of the artwork.

I am sorry. I am a Philistine.

Below right is a photo that accompanied the press release, showing the entire piece but on a different base.

James Stone of San Diego, an environmental artist, created the work and it was installed here in 2008. It's 14 feet tall, and this is how the Aquarium's 2008 press release describes it:

The sculpture depicts sea life under the thin veil of the ocean surface struggling to survive among pollution and debris. Stone shows his interpretation of fish trapped in ghost nets – nets cut lose by fisherman, left floating in the oceans, trapping fish never to be released. The sculpture was inspired by a recent scuba diving venture off Grand Cayman Island. Stone was aghast to find a lack of fish amid destruction of the ecosystem by pollutants, contamination and the environmental changes barren of marine diversity.

“I just want people to think,” Stone said. “I don’t want to tell them what to do. I just want them to make better decisions. Every person on the planet can make a difference with just a few good choices.”

Stone is a diver and has seen dramatic changes in the ocean over the years.

This piece was not designed for our aquarium. Originally it was an entry into the San Diego Port District's annual Urban Tree contest for artists, and it stood on the North Embarcadero of San Diego Bay for a year. Stone and his crew restored it (weather & graffiti had damaged the sculpture) before it was brought to Long Beach.

Here is what a larger article/press release has to say about some of the features of the artwork, the ghost nets and oil drum:

Ghost nets are fishing nets made of synthetic fibers that can last for hundreds of years and which are lost by fishermen but continue to catch fish. These eventually die and are eaten by other fish who also get caught in the nets, starting to weight them down until they sink to the ocean floor, where other critters feast on them. When the nets are emptied, they become buoyant once again and float back up to the top, where they catch more fish, and the cycle repeats itself. 

The glass fish have dichroic glass on once side, and thus will look ghostlike in the net as the sun shines on them and the dichroic glass becomes a multi-colored prism of sorts. They represent the dead fish caught in the ghost nets. 

Also included in the sculpture is a representation of a leaking, corroded metal oil drum and a depiction of the Canadian Destroyer Escort, the Yukon, which was successfully sunk about one mile off the San Diego coast in “Wreck Alley,” an area of artificial reefs that includes at least seven other scuttled ships; before being sunk, all the ships were made safe for divers to enjoy as they explore the diver-friendly area.

This second mosaic (very loosely defined) is a hanging sculpture of two Hump Backed Whales and their names--no joking--are George and Gracie.

They are made of ocean trash, and were created by special effects artist Greag Aronowitz and the Roddenberry Dive Team. Here's the PR on what fills the whale's exoskeletons:

The Roddenberry Dive Team participated in coastal clean-ups at the Los Angeles River and Avalon Harbor at Catalina Island to collect the marine debris for the sculpture. This includes plastic water bottles, bags, pill bottles, balls, food wrappers, cigarette butts, and pieces of Styrofoam. The frames of the whales were made from shower curtain rods, fishing poles, baby carriages, and pipes.

You can read a bit more about George and Gracie, see more photos, and continue on to learn about the work Rod Roddenberry (Gene's son) is doing to make the world a better place here.

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