Underwater Canopy

2005. Carl Cheng, Santa Monica Public Library. According to the April 19, 2005 SMPL press release (http://santa-monica.org/news/releases/archive/2005/smpl20050419.htm), "A major milestone in the construction of the new Main Library at Santa Monica Boulevard and Sixth Street was recently achieved with the preliminary installation of "Underwater Canopy" by artist Carl Cheng.

The site-specific artwork is located over a portion of the cafˇ space in the outdoor garden courtyard of the new library, scheduled to open in January 2006. The steel and glass structure is over 30 feet in diameter and hovers more than 11 feet above the courtyard deck. It is adjacent to landscaping and a water feature that also reflect the underwater theme. For Santa Monica artist Cheng, the "shadow canopy É is inspired by the marine life in the Santa Monica Bay." Once the project is completed, seven circular skylights mounted on the canopy will have "transparent images depicting underwater scenery as if the cafˇ is an underwater cafˇ. One small skylight shows a recent (1996) sonar map of the actual Bay topography," according to Cheng.

Carl Cheng was chosen as the Main Library project artist through the City of Santa Monica Arts CommissionÕs juried selection process from a field of 54 California artist applicants, many of them with international reputations. Cheng has received several public art commissions throughout the United States; and he has an extensive roster of solo exhibitions and installations internationally. In 1988, he executed the "Santa Monica Art Tool: Walk on L.A.," a cast concrete and steel sculpture that is installed on the beach, north of the Santa Monica Pier. Cheng has also received numerous visual artist awards, grants, fellowships and residencies from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Getty, and the Flintridge Foundation.

"Underwater Canopy" is a project of the City of Santa MonicaÕs public art program and was developed through a collaborative process with the Main Library architects Moore Ruble Yudell Architects and Planners and the landscape architect for the project, Pamela Burton & Company, both of Santa Monica. The interplay of materials, natural processes, and physical phenomena are hallmarks of ChengÕs public art. In addition to the intricate design of the piece, "Underwater Canopy" focuses on the effect of shadows thrown by the canopy as the sun moves across the sky with the patterns reflecting the topography, landscape, and sea life of the nearby Bay. This constantly changing artwork will be enjoyed by library visitors of all ages."

The two images are courtesy of Santa Monica Public Library:

The two images below are courtesy of Ruth Wallach:


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