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Art displays take flight at JWA

Airport adds two new art installations: a sculpture called 'Flight of Ideas' and exhibit space promoting arts and culture in O.C.

December 29, 2011|By Imran Vittachi
  • "Heisler Park" by Mark Jacobucci
"Heisler Park" by Mark Jacobucci (Courtesy John Wayne…)

JOHN WAYNE AIRPORT — The "Flight of Ideas" art installation noiselessly crowds the airspace above the baggage carousels at the new Terminal C here.

This is where the old Terminal B garage stood before construction crews razed it to clear the way for Terminal C — the main piece of John Wayne Airport's $543-million improvement and renovation program — which opened in mid-November.

In assorted sizes, shapes and colors, the sculpture's 21 individual pieces together resemble a flock of flying mechanical birds. They seem to float in the air as they dangle from a 100-foot truss suspended from the terminal's barrel vault ceiling. Their bodies are made of aluminum, and their colorful wings and tail fins are plexiglass cutouts imprinted with sections of actual FAA aeronautical charts.

The sculpture in Terminal C (one of three contiguous terminals housed in the Thomas F. Riley Terminal building) is a milestone for JWA. It is the county-run airport's first acquisition of a work of art.

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For $50,000, the airport commissioned Kansas City, Mo., public space artist Beth Nybeck to create "Flight of Ideas" for the opening of Terminal C. The proposal by Nybeck, whose portfolio includes works commissioned mostly by towns in the Midwest, was selected following a competition that solicited more than 20 proposals from artists nationwide, JWA officials said.

The Nybeck work is one of at least two physical components integrated into plans for the new terminal that represent an expansion of JWA's 21-year-old art program.

The county Board of Supervisors-appointed Airport Arts Commission worked closely with the architect to ensure that spaces for displaying art were incorporated into the building's design, said Karin Schnell, the commission's chair.

"I think it humanizes the whole experience of being in the airport ...," said Jeffrey Frisch, the airport's art program coordinator who is an artist in his own right.

"To me, as an artist, [it is] a very important part of the travel experience because it takes it out of just the bus station realm and really puts a high cultural polish to the experience," he added.

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'O.C.: Destination Art & Culture'

Frisch and Courtney C. Wiercioch, JWA's deputy director of public affairs, were taking a reporter on a tour of the art spaces in the airport's non-restricted areas in Terminals A, B and C, which the public can access without a boarding pass.

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