Despite a few disgruntled Venice community members attempting to halt the installation of a much-talked-about Robert Graham sculpture at Kinney Plaza in the Windward Circle in Venice, it appears as though plans for the statue placement are moving forward.
The 3,500-pound-sculpture under discussion is a bronze torso of a nude female. It is mounted on a stainless steel base to be bolted to a concrete pad.
At a meeting of the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council Art Committee in November of last year, one committee member said:
“I would personally find it a sexist statement to have the headless torso of a female nude in the most predominant place in Venice.”
We wonder, if Graham inserted a head on top of the torso, would the committee member still find it sexist?
Sandy Kievman, Venice area deputy for Los Angeles Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, says that the process to approve the project and obtain permits for building and installation is “moving right along.”
At the same November meeting, those in attendance were largely supportive of the sculpture.
“The statue has an ocean-like feel to it,” said Emily Winters, chair of the Arts Committee.
The Grass Roots Venice Arts Committee has continued to meet since the Grass Roots Neighborhood Council was commanded by the City of Los Angeles to stop conducting business.
The Arts Committee now goes by the group name of the “Venice Arts Council.”
Kievman says that the sculpture project — which was at one time part of a larger project, the Windward Avenue Improvements — must still be approved by the California Coastal Commission.
The Windward Avenue Improvements project would include:
— site furniture;
— palm trees and irrigation, surrounding the circle flanking Windward to the beach;
— street median planters, streets intersecting the circle;
—Windward Circle traffic bollards, surrounding the circle;
— crosswalks surrounding the circle, stamped and colored; and
— crosswalks at Pacific and Windward Avenues.
The total cost of the project was estimated at $560,000, but that included $75,000 for the sculpture installation and lighting, which is now a separate project.
“A number of public meetings were held to discuss the sculpture and the public was largely supportive of it,” says Kievman, who adds that she personally received many e-mails, only a few of which expressed having a problem with the proposed statue placement.
Kievman says that the cost of installing the Graham statue is estimated at $75,000 to $95,000, which will be taken out of the city Venice Surplus Real Property Fund.
“There is roughly $2 million remaining in the fund,” said Kievman.
The sculpture itself has been donated to the City of Los Angeles by an anonymous benefactor, says Kievman.
BUS BENCHES — Winters says that representatives of the Windward Business District have begun removing bus benches surrounding the circle and replacing them with “leaning poles.”
“They are doing this because they don’t want the homeless sleeping on these benches,” Winters claims.
“I don’t agree with this” action, she said.
Winters said that working people who are tired at the end of the day should not have to stand while they are waiting for the bus.
Kievman says that the Windward Business representatives applied for and were granted a matching neighborhood grant and have obtained permits to remove the benches.