If you hate the sight of the 12 steel sculptures on the vacant lot at North H Street and East Ocean Avenue, not to worry. They will soon be removed.
On the other hand, if you appreciate abstract art of the colorful kind welded by internationally-known Los Angeles artist James Wolfe, don’t despair. They won’t be going far.
“The new property owner wanted them moved, so we’re going to move them,” said Cindy McCall, the city’s parks and urban forestry manager.
“We think we’ve found a permanent home for four of them. Three citizens want to do a private display,” she said. The remaining eight pieces may also have a home. “We’re trying to work something out where they can be displayed at the Wine Ghetto.”
Asked when the artwork will be removed, McCall didn’t offer a specific time.
“Sooner than later,” she said. “The property owner wanted them gone a month ago.”
The city’s Beautification and Appearance Commission voted recently to recommend that the artwork be stored temporarily in the old municipal swimming pool and that Wolfe be asked to either retrieve the sculptures or give them to the city for “disposal.”
“It is the City of Arts and Flowers and if we start destroying our art or taking our art away, we’re going to have to change our name,” McCall said.
Wolfe has given the city permission to display his work elsewhere, she said.
“He wants them to be on display and he doesn’t care where that is,” McCall said.
Wolfe’s “calligraphic structures” are on display at the Smithsonian Institution, and have been exhibited at art museums throughout the United States and in Europe.
But his artwork has a love-hate relationship with Lompoc residents.
“They either love it or they hate it,” McCall said. “It’s been that way close to a decade.”
The sculptures have been on loan to the city since 2004, when they were placed on the vacant lot as part of a pilot Sculpture Garden recommended by a previous Beautification and Appearance Commission.
In 2011 the lot, which was owned since 2002 by Lompoc Housing and Community Development Corporation, was transferred to new owners Hugh and Janet Jay, who asked that the sculptures be removed.