"Light Gate," an almost 15-foot-tall artwork composed of stainless steel, glass and prismatic film with a large keyhole-shaped passageway through
"Light Gate," an almost 15-foot-tall artwork composed of stainless steel, glass and prismatic film with a large keyhole-shaped passageway through the middle, will be installed at Highland Avenue and 14th Street in the public plaza between City Hall and the new library.

Manhattan Beach has spent the year celebrating its 100th birthday, and now the city will have an art piece to remember it for years to come.

"Light Gate," an almost 15-foot-tall artwork composed of stainless steel, glass and prismatic film with a large keyhole-shaped passageway through the middle, will be installed at Highland Avenue and 14 th Street in the public plaza between City Hall and the new library.

The glass, laminated with prismatic lighting film, will create rich and varied light effects with the sun, according to the Cambridge, Mass.-based artists, Mags Harries and Lajos H├ęder. As visitors move around the sculpture, it will shift from transparency to prismatic refraction to mirror reflection, they said.

The city put out a call to more than 1,300 artists in June in search of a piece, budgeted at $130,000 from the Public Art Trust fund, that would "create an exceptional visual experience for locals and visitors, celebrate the city's past and inspire future generations."

After receiving 160 qualified submissions from across the country, the Cultural Arts Commission and Art in Public Places Committee narrowed them down to five finalists in August.

The City Council approved the piece at its meeting earlier this week.

"A fulcrum of city and sand, 'Light Gate' provides a connection port/gateway from past to future, grounds the viewer at the civic center and encourages them to look out over the horizon to imagine a future of endless possibilities," the description reads. Passers-by will be able to watch the sunset directly through the center of the sculpture.


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Supporters on the council praised the piece as "iconic," "timeless," and "engaging."

"What I really love is the framing of the ocean and horizon," Councilwoman Amy Howorth said. "You can touch (the piece), you can walk under it, there will be rainbows on the ground. Kids will go nuts over it."

Mayor Wayne Powell said at first he questioned what the sculpture had to do with Manhattan Beach.

"As with art sometimes, it starts to grow on you; you start seeing things," he said. "You can see the ocean through the keyhole. The more I look at it, the more I like it."

Jodi Thomas, a sculptural artist, said she is in love with the design.

"It captures a lot of what Manhattan Beach is about," she said. "I like that you can touch and feel and experience the work of art."

Councilman Richard Montgomery, the sole dissenting vote, agreed with a couple of residents who felt the piece did not capture or connect with Manhattan Beach and could easily be installed in any city.

"Where is the pier? How 'bout Sand Dune Park? Something that reflects our city. I don't see anything that does that," he said. "How does it tie to the city?"

Resident Jon Chaykowski compared the chosen sculpture to "The Bean" in Chicago.

"'The Bean' is entertaining, but it doesn't say anything about Chicago," he said. "I envision sand and ocean. I don't recognize (the city's) history in the pieces that I saw."

But Howorth said that because the piece is conceptual, it will remain timeless.

"In five, 10, 15 years, it will be about something else because it doesn't say what it is," she said.

Parks and Recreation Director Richard Gill did not yet have an estimate of when the sculpture would be installed. He said the city's next steps are developing an agreement with the artists, working with them to refine the conceptual design and coordinating with the architects of the new library, as the piece will be installed next to it.

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