Public-art sculpture symbolizes sea’s importance to Long Beach

<strong>The public artwork “Seagrass” is designed to create a sense of visual rhythm inspired by the undulations of coastal water-dwelling seagrasses as they ebb and flow in the current.</strong>

The elegant steel curves of public artist Barbara Grygutis’s “Seagrass” stretch towards the ocean-blue sky, as though rippling and swaying in a larger-than-life seabed. The three-piece sculptural composition with integral lighting is located downtown in the median of Ocean Boulevard, at Chestnut Avenue, directly across from the Long Beach County Courthouse, and is an artistic reminder of the importance and beauty of ocean life to metropolitan Long Beach.
The public artwork is designed to create a sense of visual rhythm inspired by the undulations of coastal water-dwelling seagrasses as they ebb and flow in the current. “Seagrass” comprises three light-infused sculptural elements of up to 30 feet in height. At dusk, inner LED lighting creates a soft, celestial glow and the texture of the surface of the sculptures creates a shimmering appearance of motion. The installation is designed to be visually dynamic day and night, transforming the site within a 24-hour framework so it can be enjoyed by drivers and pedestrians around the clock.
The “Seagrass” commission is the result of an extensive national artist search and competition and was awarded by the Arts Council for Long Beach (ACLB). The work has the support and enthusiasm of local officials, including Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal. “This latest public art installation is a unique landmark on the Ocean Boulevard corridor,” said Lowenthal. ‘Seagrass’ serves as a beautiful gateway for the downtown and evokes Long Beach’s historical ties and proximity to the ocean.”
These historic ties were the impetus of Grygutis’s concept, which was to create a piece that would illustrate the significance of the sea to this maritime capital. Boasting one of the world’s largest and busiest ports, Long Beach is aptly named “Aquatic Capital of the Nation,” thus it seemed natural to Grygutis to create a work of art that would connect urbanites with marine beauty.
Craig Watson, executive director of the ACLB said the sculpture “represents a stunning and beautiful welcome to the city at one of our important entryways. This is an artwork everyone can enjoy.”
As a professional public artist, Grygutis has received numerous awards, including the recent Best in Class in the Brick in Architecture competition and a Hardscape North America Project Award for “Imaginary Garden” in Cary, NC, as well as the Individual Artist’s Fellowship and an Individual Project Design Award from the National Endowment for the Arts; among others.
Grygutis has more than 75 site-specific, permanent installations in cities from coast to coast and beyond, including Miami, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; New York City; Washington DC; Denver, Colorado; Seattle, Washington; Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, where she lives and works.


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