A La Mesa family’s plan for a powder-coated aluminum gazebo—featuring intricate, colorful mosaic paneling—appears to have the upper hand as the choice for the $100,000 Centennial Legacy Project.
La Mesans Jesus “Jess” and Mary Lynn Dominguez, with daughter Amy, are vying against proposals by Paul Hobson of San Diego and Christian Stayner of Los Angeles for the downtown public artwork.
But when Mayor Art Madrid and Councilman Mark Arapostathis met Monday morning with two other panel members to review the finalists’ projects, the Dominguez pitch seemed to be a favorite.
“Each of these projects has a different perspective, and represents a variety of themes,” Madrid said. “The subcommittee will recommend to the council to approve the project that we think best represents ‘placemaking’ for La Mesa—and its past, present and future.”
Madrid said he liked the concept of branding from the Dominguez project.
“The phrase ‘I’ll meet you at The Lookout’ had me immediately,” he said.
Arapostathis agreed, and said incorporating a seat wall is also appealing, if the project is designed as a meeting place.
“Having a place to stop and sit is important,” he said of the project, whose name harkens back to Lookout Avenue—what La Mesa Boulevard once was called.
The Legacy Project subcommittee met Monday for about two hours at the city's Emergency Operations Center, and viewed the three best presentations of the 50 proposals initially submitted.
After the presentations, Madrid and Arapostathis, approved a motion to recommend one of the projects for final approval by the City Council, which will take place in July.
In March, the city council —the triangle-shaped parcel at the intersections of La Mesa Boulevard, Allison Avenue and Cypress Street.
Monday’s presentation included scale models of what thes project as well as budgets not to exceed $100,000—$20,000 of which is the artist fee.
“The Lookout” by the Dominguezes is a rustproof, gazebo adorned with glass mosaic tiles spelling out every year from 1912 to 2012.
The six-column gazebo would feature eight larger panels with mosaic images detailing some of the landmark dates in the history of the city, including the beginning of the area’s agricultural prominence, the 1957 Little League championship, and the origins of “Flying A” movie studios in 1912.
On top would be an aluminum jewel representing the city’s moniker as “The Jewel of the Hills.” The gazebo would be 17 feet tall and 11 feet wide at its widest point.
“We wanted the project to be a gathering place in its own right,” Mary Lynn Dominguez told the subcommittee: “Let’s meet at the Lookout!”
All of the designs must feature a component for the time capsule, which the city plans to bury and dig up in the year of the bicentennial.
In the Dominguez offering, the capsule would be buried underneath the gazebo, and covered by a logo medallion of the Centennial, which would be 32 inches in diameter. The medallion would be preserved once the time capsule is dug up.
Other features of The Lookout include:
- A bronze sculpture of a Helix aspersa snail, of which Mount Helix is named because of its long, spiraling roads reminiscent of that of a snail. The sculpture would be 30 inches high and 36 inches long, and feature a descriptive plaque outlining the its origins in the area. It would be a kid-friendly, educational aspect to the project, as kids could “ride” the statue, which would be securely mounted into a concrete footing.
- Rows of bricks recognizing donors for the project. The bricks would feature donor names sandblasted into the bricks and laid out in a similar fashion as the walkways in La Mesa Village.
- A concrete seat wall surrounding The Lookout, which would enable people to sit down and relax at the gazebo. The budget for the project did not include a seat wall, but the Dominguezes said it could be modified to include it, if the subcommittee liked the idea—which it did.
The Dominguezes told Patch that the gazebo concept wasn’t their first idea, but it came through many brainstorming sessions.
“We went through a lot of designs,” Jess said. “We had an hourglass idea, lots of different sculptures, then this idea just sort of came to us.”
Mary Lynn said that given the fact they’ve made La Mesa home since 1976, they have a good sense of what the city is about, and they think their project ties into that well.
“We live close to The Village, and we love it there,” she said. “We think our vision of this project would fit in perfectly at the location.”
Jess was professor of art at the School of Art, Design, and Art History at San Diego State University and retired in 2002 after 26 years.
Mary Lynn has created works for Terminal 2 at Lindbergh Field and four 40-foot mosaic and slate walls near the Lomas Santa Fe off-ramp of Interstate 5 in Solana Beach. She collaborated with Jess and another artist on the Children’s Wall at Children’s Hospital. Examples of Mary Lynn’s beautiful mosaic artwork can be seen on her website.
The subcommittee also heard a presentation from Paul Hobson, whose project proposal harkened back to the early film industry in La Mesa and its “Flying A Studios.”
Hobson’s project features a series of vertical filmstrips—nine in all–of varying heights, arranged in a helix formation to honor the area’s most famous topographical landmark.
Each of the filmstrips features framed laminate pictures, secured by colored safety glass. The photos themselves are a reflection of the historical aspect of the city, and include images from the city’s archives of its railroad industry, film industry, natural springs, Mount Helix and more.
The filmstrips would be spaced apart to allow people to walk in between them and view the photos, as well as creating “see-through” space that would not inhibit drivers’ ability to see traffic from the adjacent streets. Recessed lighting in the ground would allow the images to be viewed at night.
In keeping with the project requirements, the project deck would consist of donor recognition bricks, sandblasted to reveal the donor name. The time capsule would be buried beneath the structure, and could be retrieved in 100 years without damaging the existing structure.
“The concept is meant to celebrate La Mesa as the original location for Flying A Studios,” Hobson told Patch. “It’s a way to highlight the real historic asset, and to preserve and incorporate the film industry.”
Hobson, a renowned San Diego artist, has worked on several projects in the city, including the new entryway to the downtown Marriott hotel.
He has also been commissioned to produce pieces for the renovation of Terminal 2 at the San Diego International Airport. His work can be seen on his website.
The third finalist was Christian Stayner. His proposal was a giant neon 10-foot rotating arrow, which would point down to where the time capsule is buried. Donor names would be sandblasted into the concrete plaza hardscape surrounding the arrow. The concept would create an instant icon for the city, and a beloved focal point, he said.
Stayner didn’t attend Monday’s meeting. Attempts to contact him by phone were unsuccessful as well.
Madrid said he was disappointed that Stayner did not present to the subcommittee in person, but overall was pleased with the presentations.
Arapostathis said he liked Hobson’s project and the potential to add more donor bricks.
However, subcommittee co-chair Carol Lockwood said she thought the project was a bit “cold and sterile.”
“It’s a great concept, but I think it works better somewhere else,” she said.
The subcommittee said that they found the Stayner concept interesting, but didn’t know how a neon arrow would blend with the rest of the surrounding architecture in the Village.
The winning artists will be notified, and the announcement will be made public, at the July 10 council meeting. After that, the artists will begin contract negotiation in August, and will work with city planners and staff on the project. It is hoped that the project will be completed and unveiled in December 2013.