10 Must-See Public Art Pieces in Laguna Beach

10 Must-See Public Art Pieces in Laguna Beach

Explore the wealth and creativity of local and international artists who have created more than 100 unique pieces of art in public spaces located throughout Laguna Beach.

These installations add dimensions, depth and character to our artistic community. Check out our recommendations for 10 must-see pieces of public art in Laguna Beach.

“Breaching Whale” by Jon Seeman (2011)

Breaching Whale by Jon Seeman (2011)

An artists’ haven for more than a century, Laguna Beach 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 wandering the charming village. Many are the work of local artists — like this 16-foot-tall sculpture perfectly situated at a vantage point in Heisler Park where visitors can actually enjoy the whales migrating.

“Green Man with Red Birds” by Julia Klemek (2006)

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 to imaginatively reinterpret natural forms, and she’s described this piece as “part tree, part man with a heart of birds.” The real magic 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.

“Sight and Sound” by Raymond Persinger (2002)

Sight And Sound by Raymond Persinger (2002)

Two six-foot panels in Browns’ Park put the stunning scenery into words through poems written by the artist, Raymond Persinger, specifically for this site. Made of metal, wood and stained glass — stop by during sunset for an almost-religious viewing experience — this sculptural handrail reminds us to be present and appreciate every fleeting and fragile moment. What extravagant respite, indeed!

“Laguna Tortoise” by Michele Taylor (2003)

Laguna Tortoise by Michele Taylor (2003)

Inspired by Aesop’s fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare,” this colorful creature makes its home in Bluebird Park, where children love to climb on it and create their own stories. The nine-foot-long tortoise weighs almost two tons and is embedded with ceramics, cast and blown glass. It is the artist’s hope that it will encourage people “to maintain focus, humility and perseverance regardless of the situation.”

“Time Connected” by Scott and Naomi Schoenherr (2012)

Time Connected by Scott And Naomi Schoenherr (2012)

Inspired by 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 they connect the city to the ocean — timelessly.

“Grace” by Terry Thornsley (2014)

Grace by Terry Thornsley (2014)

This powerful mural/sculpture honors the bravery of the Laguna Beach lifeguards, as well as the ocean and sea life which surround their work. California artist Thornsley is well-known for his intricate bronze sculptures, and this one was built in six sections, each weighing about 150 pounds. It’s lucky it’s 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.

“North and South Waves” by Larry Gill (2003)

North South Wave by Larry Gill (2003)

These abstract wave forms, which flank 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 completely feel like they belong there. Although the stainless steel and granite pieces rise up through the landscape on a popular shopping street, they are a narrative of the ocean right behind them and a reminder of the integral role it plays in the city’s daily life.

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

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. 

“Voyager” by Linda Brunker (2003)

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.”

“Repose” by Gerard Stripling (2003)

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 become the best seats in the house for viewing the most wondrous of all of Laguna Beach’s pieces of public art: the Pacific Ocean.

Downloand the full guide to Laguna Beach public art

About the Author

Ashley Johnson

After graduating from The University of Arizona with a Journalism degree. You can find Ashley in search for one of her two favorite dishes — bone marrow or fish tacos. The self-proclaimed wine snob is also a huge sports fan (Go Wildcats & Raiders!), loves searching for antiques, and is an HGTV/DIY junkie. Ashley currently resides in Mission Viejo with her husband and French bulldog.

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