A Los Angeles group, which previously proposed replacing the statue of Athena at the Monterey Park’s iconic Cascade water feature, has come back with a new proposal after being rejected last month by local residents.
The new proposal by Equitable Vitrines, a non-profit art group based in downtown Los Angeles, is to place a statue of Eve in a small pond at the midpoint in the Cascades is already drawing opposition by local residents.
According to the city manager’s office, the new proposal was sent to all the council members in advance, but was not received at city hall until this past Thursday. Meanwhile, a story and photo was placed in a Pasadena newspaper and circulated widely in the Internet, resulting in growing opposition from local residents.
Residents speaking at the previous council meeting suggested placing the proposed statue at one of the dozen other city parks that do not have any art.
They expressed concern about changing the appearance and historic value the Cascade Park that includes a waterfall that leads down to the El Encanto Building, a historic venue. The location is just off of Atlantic Boulevard at the intersection of El Portal Street and De La Fuente Street.
In a statement by former city clerk Theresa Amador, she said she opposed the proposal because “to place any object that would impede or disrupt the view of Athena from the base of the Cascades would essentially be defacing and destroying not only the city’s most valued historical landmark, but also its identity, because the Cascades, including the view of Athena, that is part of the City Seal.”
Other civic leaders opposing the project included Johnny Thompson, local business leader; publisher Nancy Arcuri, Paul Perez, Marcia Spira, Dolores Rillos, Marie Montanez and Larry Sullivan.
Equitable Vitrines proposes placing a statue of Eve at the mid-point of the falls where a small oval pond is located. Matt Connolly, spokesman for Equitable Vitrines said in a letter that the proposal had been revised to address concerns voice by number of residents at a previous council meeting.
“With this public art installation, we aim to provide the basis for conversations about the Monterey Park’s rich history of diversity and inclusion, and to project these values into the city’s bright future,” the proposal stated.
Opponent Johnny Thompson, a long-time business owner and resident in the Cascade neighborhood, gave the following statement:
“Installing a four-foot statue of Eve in our fountain pool at Heritage Park-Cascades – is inappropriate. The site is listed with and protected by the California Register of Historical Resources as a landmark in our city.
He said the city council would decide whether or not to approve the installation of Eve at the city council meeting on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, at 7 p.m.
“We hope to see many Monterey Parkians in support of our neighborhood efforts to prevent the installation,” Thompson said.
The proposal includes a letter of support from Pilar Tompkins Rivas, director of the Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College and a Monterey Park resident. She praised the project as one that as a “thoughtful and invigorating project that will undoubtedly contribute to the enrichment of Monterey Park’s residents.”
According to a plan submitted by the group, the statue will have an independent foundation that will sit on the fountain floor. “No hardware will anchor into the fountain. The sculpture will be secured to the independent foundation using keyed, tamper-proof screws.”
The opposition group said it would recommend that the statue be placed at city hall or another park in the city where there is no public art.
Connolly said that Equitable Vitrines would cancel the project if it were not able to locate the statue of Eve (as in Adam & Eve) at the Cascades Park.
The original proposal would have removed the statue of Athena and temporarily replaced it with the statue of Eve. After a torrent of protests during oral communications, the proposal never came before the city council.
The earliest possible date for council consideration would be April 19.