The Beverly Hills Arts and Culture Commission’s Feb. 9 regular meeting included a spirited discussion of the city’s outdoor art maintenance, the Burton Way Median Project, the mapped art walk and upcoming installations. Commissioners also reviewed the conservation of the 26 city-owned artworks located throughout parks and public spaces, and the annual maintenance budget of $42,010 for the city’s art collection. Maintenance in the past year has included protective coverings on artwork, due to the civil unrest that began early last summer.
Despite the full agenda, much of the meeting was spent on one topic: the installation of Alexandra Nephite’s sculpture entitled “Love Anatomy” this spring on the Burton Way median. The well-known Romanian American cubist painter first donated the piece to the city in 2018. The shapely 100-pound bronze sculpture is a stylized rendering of the female figure that exemplifies why Nechita is known as “Petite Picasso.” According to the artist, the piece is appraised at between $350,000 and $450,000.
Nechita moved from Romania to the United States as a child and was soon celebrated as a prodigious talent. She held her first exhibition at a public library in Los Angeles at the age of eight. By age 11, she had completed 16 exhibitions and sold more than $1 million in artwork. She has led global arts initiatives on behalf of the United Nations and has work on display at museums throughout the world. She graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from UCLA in 2008 and lives in Los Angeles.
“I’ve tried to make great efforts in my pursuit as an artist to advocate for the arts and to remind people how incredibly powerful they are and what an incredible gift it is,” Nechita said during the Feb. 9 meeting. “Not only an aesthetic gift, but an emotional gift. Public art in particular has the capacity to make a city and a geography better, so I am exceedingly proud to be part of that messaging in my hometown.”
The Burton Way median is currently home to three other sculptures–Alexander Liberman’s “Sisyphus,” William Kentridge’s “World On Its Hind Legs” and Fletcher Benton’s “Folded Square – Alphabet G.” The median is being redesigned to incorporate drought-tolerant plants, two infiltration bioswales and an underground reservoir for a storm water retention. California native and Mediterranean vegetation will replace the 3.7 acres of median turf as part of the city’s ongoing stormwater pollution and prevention efforts. Work on the Burton Way Median Project will officially start work in June.
The “Love Anatomy” sculpture will reside on the west side of the median between the palm trees and the “Sisyphus.” For scale, the new sculpture is slightly shorter than “Sisyphus” by two feet, measuring nearly eight feet tall. The front of the sculpture would be slanted and slightly turned east, facing the other pieces already there. The sculptures will remain in their current juxtaposition with the addition of “Love Anatomy.”
“I’m also super proud to be part of the Burton Way Median project. I think it parallels so much of the messaging of this piece. We kind of assign this idea of love to people and to humans, but really, that’s exactly a fraction of it. And that’s what the sculpture represents. Love for your space, love for your city and love for your community. It’s greater and bigger than just love shared between two people.”
In the coming weeks, Arts and Culture commissioners and Public Works staff will meet with the artist on site to talk about the installation.
“Love Anatomy” is expected to be installed by the end of April or early in May of this year.
“I know this has been a project that has been in the works for years,” Director of Community Services Jenny Rogers told the Courier. “There’s been a lot of support from the community and from the artists herself, so we’re just really thrilled to be at this point and we’re excited to have people come and see the piece.”
To learn more about the Beverly Hills fine art program, visit http://www.beverlyhills.org/departments/communityservices/artsandculturecommission/fineartprogram/.