10Best Pieces of Public Art in Laguna Beach

  • "Breaching Whale" by Jon Seeman (2011)

    An artists' haven for more than a century, Laguna Beach, California, has evolved into a renowned destination for world-class artists, festivals and galleries. It also boasts more than 85 pieces of public art, which you can enjoy for free while shopping and eating your way through the charming village. Many are the works of local artists–like this 16-foot-tall sculpture perfectly situated at a vantage point in Heisler Park where you can also watch whales swim by on their migration route. Talk about life imitating art ...

    Photo courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

  • "Laguna Tortoise" by Michele Taylor (2003)

    Inspired by Aesop's classic fable, "The Tortoise and the Hare," this colorful creature makes its home in Bluebird Park, where children love to climb on it and invent their own stories. The nine-foot-long tortoise weighs almost two tons and is embedded with ceramics, cast and blown glass. The artist hopes her creation will encourage visitors "to maintain focus, humility and perseverance regardless of the situation."

    Photo courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

  • "Green Man with Red Birds" by Julia Klemek (2006)

    There's something magical about walking by the trees in Village Green Park and coming across this joyful seven-foot-tall ceramic sculpture. Klemek's signature style is her imaginative reinterpretation of natural forms, and she's described this piece as "part tree, part man with a heart of birds." The real magic, though, happens when kids on the nearby swings get a glimpse of the sculpture and realize they're not the only ones learning how to fly.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

  • "Sight and Sound" by Raymond Persinger (2002)

    Two six-foot-wide panels in Browns' Park put the stunning scenery into words through poems written specifically for this site by the artist himself. Made of metal, wood and stained glass–stop by at sunset for an almost-religious viewing experience–this sculptural handrail reminds visitors to be present and appreciate every fleeting and fragile moment. "What extravagant respite," indeed.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

  • "Time Connected" by Scott and Naomi Schoenherr (2012)

    Taking its cue from Shelley Cooper's poem, "Sparkle (Giggle Crack)," this gorgeous artwork is comprised of interlocking wheels which show off ceramic tiles featuring local plants and insects. Complementing large slab benches and inset mosaic sidewalk installations, the artwork is the showpiece of a delightful sculpture garden which flows through Heisler Park. As the artists intended, the pieces not only connect to each other but also connect the city to the ocean–timelessly.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

  • "Grace" by Terry Thornsley (2014)

    This powerful wall-mounted sculpture honors the dedication and bravery of the Laguna Beach lifeguards, as well as the ocean and sea life which are part of their everyday life. Local artist Thornsley is well-known for his intricate bronze sculptures, and this one was built in six sections, weighing 150 pounds apiece. Luckily, the mural is situated near the lifeguard headquarters on Main Beach because when the lights hidden in the design elements turn on at dusk, it just may take your breath away.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

  • "North and South Waves" by Larry Gill (2003)

    These abstract wave forms, flanking both sides of the entrance to Forest Avenue, are perfect examples of how works of art pop up in the most unexpected places in Laguna Beach–yet feel like they naturally belong there. Although the stainless steel and granite pieces rise up through the landscape on a busy shopping street, they act as a narrative of the ocean right behind them and a reminder of the integral role it plays in the city's culture.

    Photo courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

  • Semper Memento (Always Remember) by Jorg Dubin (2011)

    It's so moving to spend time at this beautifully-designed 9/11 memorial, which holds a prominent spot at Monument Point in Heisler Park. The base is shaped like the Pentagon, the internal planter represents the field in Pennsylvania and two actual I-beams from the World Trade Center make it all too real. A mirror-polished, stainless steel sphere in the center reflects the world, allowing individuals to see themselves and become part of the memorial. 

    Photo courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

  • "Voyager" by Linda Brunker (2003)

    This empowering female figure stands proudly in Treasure Island Park on South Coast Highway, facing the sea and given form by its flora and fauna. There's a spiritual aspect to the 10-foot-tall bronze beauty, which Irish artist Brunker admits to having tapped into: "I am becoming more and more aware of what the Native Americans always knew–that all things are connected." Need proof? Check for the blissful expression on your own face after viewing the one on "Voyager."

    Photo courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

  • "Repose" by Gerard Stripling (2003)

    Local artist Stripling designed this five-piece functional sculpture in Treasure Island Park, explaining, “I wanted to create something that added to the pleasant, serene, Zen-like atmosphere. Each of the shapes mimics the rock formations and the waves." These lovely, quiet pieces also, conveniently, become the best seats in the house for viewing the most wondrous of all of Laguna Beach's public art: the Pacific Ocean.

    Photo courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

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