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Herb Alpert Sculptures to Become Signposts to Santa Monica’s Future

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

By Jorge Casuso
May 6, 2013 -- During the 1960s, Herb Alpert was world renown for his Tijuana Brass. Now, the trumpeter, composer and band leader is making a splash with his bronze sculptures.

The culmination of Alpert’s move from the brass age to the bronze will be on public display in Santa Monica in the east median on Olympic Boulevard at 26th Street, where thousands of motorists each day will take in the fluid biomorphic sculptures over the next year.

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Part of a series titled “Black Totems,” the sculptures – which range from 12 to 20 feet in height – will be located adjacent to Bergamot Station Art Center and the future home of the Expo Line light rail station, according to City officials.

The works will “enliven Olympic Boulevard and extend Bergamot’s artistic presence onto the busy thoroughfare,” as the City forges a plan for the Bergamot area, a light manufacturing zone that has been Santa Monica’s artistic center for a quarter century, officials said. 

“During the City’s Bergamot Area public planning process, the community expressed a desire to call attention to the art activities at Bergamot Station during the Expo Line construction,” said Jessica Cusick, the City’s cultural affairs manager.

“This installation, aside from its notable aesthetic contribution to the neighborhood, helps to address that issue,” Cusick said.

The Santa Monica Arts Commission approved the installation as a pilot project with the hope of initiating a future series of temporary installations in the Olympic median adjacent to the Expo Light rail line, officials said.

Expected to reach Downtown Santa Monica in 2016, the Expo line is spurring a development boom near Bergamot, where several major projects totaling more than 1.5 million square feet are being proposed.

A musician, composer and artist, Alpert is also a philanthropist whose foundation – which supports emerging artists in all mediums through the annual Alpert Award in the Arts -- is located in Santa Monica.

The sculptures will be installed five blocks west of the Herb Alpert Educational Village, which is home to New Roads School and according to its officials is “a new model for innovative, collaborative, and inclusive education.”

For more than a decade, Alpert worked on “Black Totems” in his sculpting studio. The series represents the culmination of his work in the visual arts, which have been the subject of more than 20 solo and group exhibitions since 1970.

Alpert -- who has had five number one hits, 28 albums on the Billboard charts and eight Grammys – has won praise for his art, with critics finding associations to the music that made him world famous.

“For Alpert, these towering spires are like frozen smoke, or akin to the ineffable notes of music captured and held still as interminable forms,” wrote of an exhibit of “Black Totems” in Beverly Hills.

“These abstract, yet formal structures and their process of creation are fluid in a way that jazz is, making intangible compositions physical,” the review states. “These sculptures (are) consistent with the intuitive, harmonious and spontaneous moves and swings embodied in his approach to his music.”

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