In 1999, I was commissioned by Brailsford Studio (San Diego, California) to create four works as part of the public art component of the Downtown Transit Mall project commissioned by the City of Santa Monica and the Big Blue Bus. I developed original origami designs for four animals representative of the habitats in and around Santa Monica, which include subdesert, riparian, and coastal environments, fitting into Brailsford’s “River of Life” scheme for the project. The art elements were inspired by geometry, environmentalism, and the Pacific rim; origami, a Japanese art whose subjects include the natural world, was a natural fit. The four animals we chose were a tree frog, sea urchin, dragonfly, and garibaldi. The origami figures were then cast in bronze using the lost-wax process and were installed in drinking fountains at the corners of 2nd Street and Broadway Street, 2nd Street and Santa Monica Blvd, 4th Street and Broadway, and 4th and Santa Monica.
The resulting sculptures were quite popular upon their debut. The full project won the Southern California American Public Works Association’s “Streets and Transportation Project of the Year” award for 2002. In 2003, I was commissioned to produce two more original designs for casting, a sea turtle and a flying fish. They were completed and installed in 2005.
These works established my interest in casting origami in bronze, an interest that percolated in the background until a meeting with Kevin Box, a Santa Fe-based bronze sculptor who had also cast origami in bronze, initiated a collaboration with Kevin and a renewed interest in casting my own works.
As part of this project, I was also commissioned to produce four artworks based on origami crease patterns to be used for patterns built into the streets at the four intersections. The patterns were formed by pouring colored concrete, then cutting grooves into the concrete and patterning them with contrasting grout. The four patterns are shown below.
In the image below you can see an image of the intersection at 4th and Broadway (image courtesy of Google Earth). Although you can’t make out the crease lines at this resolution (in fact, it’s hard to make them out even when you’re there in person), you can clearly see the light square outline of the paper. These are, perhaps, the only crease pattern artworks visible from space (with a good enough camera!).