The first phase of a new half-acre park is complete at Icon at Playa Vista, a neighborhood or “premiere collection” of luxury housing units that is expected to be complete by the end of 2008. And this park may be more art-filled than most.

Icon Park is in the middle of the Icon at Playa Vista housing development, which was designed by John Laing Homes’ Laing Luxury Division, and is also the “legs” or walking paths that connect the park to the homes.

But John Laing Homes’ Laing Luxury Division wanted to “add to the local feel and culture of the area,” so they partnered with Otis College of Art and Design in Westchester and several local artists to create artwork to be placed in the park.

There are 35 pieces of artwork, to be exact. And six of the pieces were created by Otis College of Art and Design students.

But this artwork is not paintings or drawings — it’s permanent fixtures, like sculptures, benches, urns, statues and lighting.

Still, Playa Vista fully embraced the idea, said Joan Marcus-Colvin, vice president of sales and marketing for the John Laing Homes’ Laing Luxury Division.

Currently, 19 pieces of art have been installed.

“As we complete additional homes, other pieces will be installed throughout the community,” said Marcus-Colvin.

The theme for the park’s design was to introduce art that conveyed the concept of “tradition mixed with contemporary.”

“One of the main criteria of the art selection was its ability to stand up to the natural environ-ment while aging to what the artist envisioned,” said Marcus-Colvin.

“When we go back and drive the neighborhoods we build, we want to see enduring design and architectural integrity. The art in this park will hopefully transcend design cycles and offer the public a fun, inspiring environment to enjoy.”

Troy James, a junior at Otis College of Art and Design, is one of the six students selected to create artwork for Icon Park.

James, who is very pleased with the outcome of his artwork, designed a bench called “Blobjects” and worked with a fabricator on the project.

“It’s functioning sculpture,” James said of his bench. “It’s meant to look like it’s a floating surface — it undulates up and down just like a wave. It was designed to have fluid movement with complex curves. I wanted to get away from the regular, flat, boring bench look and bring some excitement to sitting — make a conversation piece.”

He also hopes children and adults will “expand their ways of trying to sit.”

James thinks having artwork in Icon Park is a great idea.

“The best part about Playa Vista [and Laing Luxury] introducing this project is that it’s setting an example for the city that we need more art, we need more interaction, just to bring people together,” said James.

“The thing about public art is it brings people together.”

Venice resident Dyan Garza, a sculptor and painter who also created a bench for Icon Park, agrees.

Garza thinks the project will have a positive impact on the community.

“Art’s many forms reveals the essence of people,” she said. “When space is created for art in a community, all benefit.”

Garza’s bench is called “Earthwave” and has also already been installed at Icon Park.

The shape of her bench, she said, is a gesture of land rolling into the sea. She hopes it will conjure up a sense of being by the ocean for all those who sit or lay on it.

James thinks that this art project at Icon Park is not only really “creating a community,” but is also doing another thing he thinks is beneficial: “It’s making people embrace art in L.A.,” he said.

Meanwhile, Marcus-Colvin is anxious to see what the response to the artwork will be.

“We don’t often get to impact a community with open space and art, and we are thoroughly excited about hearing what people think,” Marcus-Colvin said.

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