A temporary change in city regulations allowing some private structures to be displayed in Beverly Gardens Park was unanimously approved by the Beverly Hills City Council during its Jan. 4 Regular Meeting.
The change was approved to allow the installation of Frieze Sculpture Beverly Hills, a temporary sculpture garden expected to be on display in the park from February to May 2022.
Previously, city code would not permit private installations like Frieze Sculpture in the park. Since the city has partnered with the Frieze organization to host the event, the new resolution redefines the installation as public art, creating a legal exception that allows the event to be hosted in Beverly Gardens Park. While the change was made to accommodate Frieze, city staff told the Courier it would potentially apply to any private installation that partners with the city. The code change is effective through 2024.
Frieze Sculpture has been a popular attraction during the much-lauded Frieze art exhibitions in New York and London. This will be the first time the free public art garden has appeared on the West Coast. During the Dec. 4 meeting, Frieze organizers announced the line-up of artists and galleries expected for the sculpture garden.
“I’ve been working closely with artists and galleries to put together a phenomenal inaugural sculpture presentation for Beverly Gardens Park,” Director of Frieze Los Angeles and Frieze New York Christine Messineo told the Council. “It promises to be a site of community engagement, cultural learning and discovery, and in some cases, awe that we are able to host such significant works by well-known artists.”
The sculpture garden is expected to bring 12 sculptures from different artists and galleries. The work will represent a diverse group, from emerging artists in their 20s to established artists in their 70s, all with diverse cultural backgrounds. Eight of the galleries represented are from LA, including Beverly Hills’ Gagosian gallery.
Gagosian will be presenting the late Chris Burden’s sculpture, “40 Foot Stepped Skyscraper,” a 40-foot-tall tower constructed out of stainless steel. Burden is recognized locally for the famed “Urban Light,” a collection of streetlamps outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Also of note in the proposed collection is Glenn Kaino’s “Revolutions,” a circular sculpture made of metal bars that play a melody from the U2 song, “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” when struck in sequence.
Other artists include Takis, Beatriz Cortez, Larry Bell, Pedro Reyes, Woody De Othello, Spencer Lewis, Alma Allen, Hannah Greely, Ugo Rondinone and Olivia Erlanger. All of the sculptures were chosen to complement existing city-owned art in the park and the surrounding architecture and landscape, Messineo said.
Frieze Sculpture Beverly Hills is tentatively scheduled to open in the second week of February and Frieze organizers are working closely with the city to host a reception event. The formal Frieze Los Angeles art fair is scheduled for Feb. 17-20 in Beverly Hills.
“I think it’s a really important time to do a significant exhibition like this,” Messineo said. “People are really searching for safe outdoor activities and adventures, and I know Frieze Sculpture Beverly Hills will garner that kind of amazing traction and continue the ambitious tradition that has already been set out by the city’s permanent collection.”
In continuation of that tradition, the City of Beverly Hills has appointed Benjamin Johnson as its new Arts and Culture Manager for the Community Services Department. Johnson previously served as the Director of Performing Arts for the LA Department of Cultural Affairs since 2016. In his time with the City of LA, Johnson launched several major initiatives including Compose LA, Los Angeles Dance Platform, Black Arts @ WAA and more.
“I am beyond excited by all of the wonderful work that is already being created in the city, and I look forward to amplifying this important work in the years ahead,” Johnson said in a Dec. 5 statement. “My dream is to turn the City of Beverly Hills into a major hub of forward-looking creativity, innovation, and experimentation that in turn will serve all artists, audiences, visitors, and community members on a local, national and international level. I see the City of Beverly Hills as a fresh canvas for bridge building, and I am excited to celebrate the creativity, histories, stories, and people that make this city great.”