Sculpture garden celebrates California's diverse landscape

My pilgrimages to South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa have beenmore about channeling my inner shopaholic than recalibrating myspiritual balance. But tucked behind a TGI Friday’s, one ofSouthern California’s most placid urban spaces awaits.

Designed by artist Isamu Noguchi, California Scenario is asculpture garden that portrays the diversity of the state’slandscapes, from redwood forests to the desert. The 1 1/2-acre workmanages to evoke nature in a most unlikely place.

Considered the 20th century’s most important Japanese Americanartist, Noguchi was born in 1904 in the Los Angeles neighborhood ofBoyle Heights; his father was a Japanese poet and his mother was anAmerican writer.

As part of the Noguchi centennial, an exhibit at the JapaneseAmerican National Museum focuses on his ceramics work, whichcombined his modernist approach with traditional Japanese design.Noguchi, who died in 1988, often felt caught between cultures, andin many respects these ceramics reflect a fusing of thoseoppositions. So, too, I discovered, does California Scenario:freeway-close Zen in the heart of Orange County. The Isamu Noguchiand Modern Japanese Ceramics show is on display through May 30,2004 at the Japanese AmericanNational Museum (369 E. First St., Los Angeles; 213/625-0414).California Scenario is at 611 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa.

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