Client: Palos Verdes Art Center
Location: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, United States
Completion date: 2013
Joseph Spierer Architects
Heath Satow Sculpture
Muse was created specifically for the completely renovated Palos Verdes Art Center to act as a sentry, an inspiration, and an iconic landmark for the building. There is something familiar about the imperfect symmetry of Muse. The enigma is revealed upon altering your viewing perspective: this is the classical female form. Reinforcing the concept of art providing a new perspective, the subtle concave surfaces of Muse reflect earth inverted to sky.
This sculpture was a challenge, as it needed to be a complete artwork unto itself, yet relate to its position and function as a landmark for the art center. It needed to be large -- to be able to be seen from a distance -- yet not overwhelm its environment. The solution was to create an 18-foot-tall mirror-polished stainless steel sculpture for the building that at once drew your attention but literally reflected the colors of its surroundings. All surfaces are the same radius, which, after a short distance from the sculpture, literally flip the visual world upside down due to the optical effects created by a concave surface. The sculpture's shape is a contemporary form rooted in the historical: references to Brancusi's Bird in Space and Endless Column can be seen. The form also relates to the many uses of a muse as sculpture throughout art history. In this way, the sculpture is at once classical and contemporary.
The donor that commissioned the work came to me and handed me a blank slate. After initial designs for the sculpture, the sculpture's donor and I worked with the architect in siting the precise location for the piece, and the design of the pedestal. The pedestal was designed to reflect the look, height, and materials of the base of the building. The location was chosen to keep in in close proximity to the architecture while giving it enough space to breath. The siting came out perfect, as there's plenty of room around it for it to stand on its own, but it's close enough to the architecture to still relate in scale and not get lost in its outdoor setting.