Water to Wishes - CODAworx

Water to Wishes

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Client: Civic Art, Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture

Location: Willowbrook, CA, United States

Completion date: 2021

Artwork budget: $1,000,000

Project Team

Artist

Cliff Garten

Cliff Garten Studio

Project Manager/ Designer

Sixto Cordero

Cliff Garten Studio

Fabricator

Kevin Maag

Metal Arts Foundry

Client / Project Manager

Patricia Gomez

LA County Department of Arts and Culture

Project Management

LA County Department of Public Works

Architects of Record

HOK Architects

HOK Architects

Overview

Water to Wishes is an architecturally integrated stainless steel and LED artwork for the façade of the Mark Ridley Thomas Behavioral Health Center at the Martin Luther King Hospital in the Willowbrook section of Los Angeles. The piece consists of three 80’ high columns integrated into the façade of the building. The central motif of each column is a drawing of Willowbrook, comprised of a poetic text by several community activists and writers collaborating with the artist. The adaptive reuse of the old hospital building and seamless installation of the artwork into the facility required close collaboration with the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture and the Los Angeles Department of Public Works. Poetic text by the community defines the central river motif of each panel. The artwork serves the community by using local poets and the amplification of their voices in the form and the changing colors of the piece. The panels are designed to intensify the experience of the changing combination of LED and natural light as a separate experience from the colors of the piece at night. The community took further ownership of the piece through artist curated light shows that respond to community events.

Goals

The image of water in Water to Wishes brings the community back to the history of the Willow Brook in this part of Los Angeles, as the reason for its early settlement. The artwork uses the brook motif as a metaphor for healing and a celebration of the re-purposing of the older building for the new Behavioral Health Center. The columns are programmed with color changing LED light that is controlled by the County Staff to highlight community events. The three columns can operate independently with different colors or can be programmed to operate as a suite of three interacting sculptures. Most visible as beacons at night, the colored lights are visible on cloudy days and in winter when days are shorter, and the sun is at a low angle. The LED mixes with sunlight in a stunning array of colors. The feeling of ownership between the community and County are strong because of their participation during the making of the artwork and integration of community events through the changing colors of curated light shows by the artist.

Process

LA County Civic Art worked with Cliff and the community, through community engagement organized by community connector Dr. Cynthia Gonzalez, and local poet Bruce Lemon Jr. Cliff Garten organized the project so that the text/poetry written in English, Spanish, and Tongva, from the collaboration with the community was at the center of the project. This and the dynamic light show highlighting community events create a sense of ownership of the artwork by Health Center Staff and the surrounding community. LA County Civic Art worked with Cliff Garten and the community, through community engagement organized by community connector Dr. Cynthia Gonzalez, and local poet Bruce Lemon Jr. Cliff organized the project so that the text/poetry written in English, Spanish, and Tongva, from the collaboration with the community was at the center of the project. This and the dynamic light show highlighting community events create a sense of ownership of the artwork by Health Center Staff and the surrounding community. The Cliff Garten Studio team worked under a tight deadline for the opening of the facility, with multiple partners and some challenging technical installation conditions during the pandemic.

Additional Information

Pat Gomez, Civic Art Project Manager, Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture stated, , “Water to Wishes is a beautiful piece and a stunning addition to the everyday activities of the Behavioral Health Center. The three illuminated columns respond to both sunlight and LED animating the facade. Cliff and his team successfully worked under a tight deadline for the opening of the facility, with multiple partners and some challenging technical installation conditions during the pandemic. LA County Civic Art worked with Cliff and the community, through community engagement organized by community connector Dr. Cynthia Gonzalez, and local poet Bruce Lemon Jr. Cliff organized the project so that the text/poetry written in English, Spanish, and Tongva, from the collaboration with the community was at the center of the project. This and the dynamic light show highlighting community events create a sense of ownership of the artwork by Health Center Staff and the surrounding community. This is an excellent example of work that enlivens the public realm on multiple levels in a meaningful way.”