California Scenario

Los Angeles, United States

Isamu Noguchi

1980


In the middle of Los Angeles, sandwiched between Peet’s Coffee, Mastro's Steakhouse and TGI Friday's, is an abstract representation of California's geology and geography


Fig.1 Joshua Tree, one of the characteristic landscapes of California. (Image: visittheusa.com)
Fig.2 The California landscape formed the basis for a garden at the South Coast Plaza shopping center in Los Angeles. (Image: unknown)
Fig.3 Noguchi divided the garden - enclosed on two sides by glass office buildings, on the other sides by the white plastered walls of a parking garage - into six atmospheres. (Image: southcoastplaza.com)
Fig.4 The floor of red natural stone binds all atmospheres together. (Image: southcoastplaza.com)
Fig.5 'Water Source' is a triangular area covered with sandstone from which a meandering stream flows. (Image: unknown)
Fig.6 'Desert Land' is a circular hill, covered with sand-colored pebbles and planted with native cacti and other desert plants. (Image: unknown)

The landscape of the American state of California is diverse. Both the highest and and the lowest point of the United States are located here, you will find the extremely hot Death Valley, but also the fertile Central Valley, the fruit and vegetable shed of the country. America's most iconic landscape - Yosemite National Park - is also in this state.


The California landscape in all its richness - natural and cultural - formed the basis for a garden at the South Coast Plaza shopping center in Los Angeles. Henry Segerstrom, agricultural tycoon from a wealthy Californian family, built the complex on the site of his former lima bean plantation. He approached artist Isamu Noguchi for a sculpture in the adjacent garden. Noguchi insisted on designing the entire garden. That garden, named California Scenario, is an abstract representation of California's rich geology and geography. Noguchi: “I decided if I was going to do the project, I wanted to do something for all California – its water, desert, power and agriculture”. ( i )


Noguchi divided the garden - enclosed on two sides by glass office buildings, on the other sides by the white plastered walls of a parking garage - into six atmospheres. The floor of red natural rock connects everything. The Forest Walk consists of a rectangular, ascending lawn, enclosed by nine sequoia trees, referring to the Sierra Mountains. The Energy Fountain a granite cone with a steel cylinder from which water spouts - symbolizes the dynamics of California. Land Use is a rectangular block of granite on a hill covered with honeysuckle, according to Noguchi a reference to the "passing of life" and at the same time "a testament to those who made america". ( ii ) Desert Land is a circular hill clad in sand-colored pebbles and planted with native cacti and other desert plants. Water Source is a triangular shape covered with sandstone where a meandering stream flows out. This stream disappears in Water Usea polished, white-granite pyramid. Later the image The Spirit of the Lima Bean was added, a tribute to the Segerstrom family, who made a fortune with the cultivation of lima beans.


His background as an artist helped Noguchi: "I wanted to get down to the essence of these elements and effect a congealing of things, which is the way of sculpture”. ( iii ) The garden is also an indictment: "California as the original paradise had been transformed... maybe we destroy natural charm as we impose ourselves. This garden is a sort of soliloguy on why the situation is the way it is." ( iv ) With California Scenario, Noguchi wanted California residents to reflect on their relationship with the landscape and their role as "stewards of the natural".





( i ) Hayden Herrera, Listening to Stone. The art of life of Isamu Noguchi, London, 2015, p. 463.
( ii ) Hayden Herrera, Listening to Stone. The art of life of Isamu Noguchi, London, 2015, p. 461.
( iii ) Hayden Herrera, Listening to Stone. The art of life of Isamu Noguchi, London, 2015, p. 461.
( iv ) Hayden Herrera, Listening to Stone. The art of life of Isamu Noguchi, London, 2015, p. 461.