Places to Visit: Ballona Creek Bike Path Sculpture Gates and Mini-Parks

June 30, 2010 § 9 Comments

McConnell Avenue gate by Brett Goldstone 2009

After yesterday’s talk, I rode the Ballona Creek Bike Path and checked out the still-relatively-new art gates there. In an earlier L.A. Creek Freak post, Jessica covered the gates’ and mini-parks’ December 4th 2009 dedication. Additional online coverage can be found at Ballona Creek Renaissance’s (BCR) April 2010 newsletter. After the jump are listing and mapping of the gate/park sites, and photos of the gates as they appear today.  

  

Heading downstream from Culver City toward Marina Del Rey, there are now four art-gates on the Ballona Creek Bike Path: Sepulveda Boulevard, Inglewood Boulevard, Centinela Avenue and McConnell Avenue.

  

As Jessica mentioned earlier, these improvements were created by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA – a state agency) in conjunction with County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and others. 

All of these gates feature adjacent mini-parks. Similar to pocket parks along the Los Angeles River, the small linear parks feature seating walls, drinking fountains, bike parking, and plenty of native landscaping including sycamore trees. Note that when one bicycles on the Ballona Creek Bike Path it’s easy to miss these, as they’re all at the bike path access points not quite on the main path itself. They’re more like on-ramps – not difficult to find, but possible to easily pass when one is in a hurry to get from one end to the other. 

The gate at Sepulveda Boulevard was created by artist Lucy Blake-Elahi, who is also a founding member of BCR. It depicts wave and tree forms, bicycle wheels and a large scale raptor in flight. 

Sepulveda Boulevard gate by Luci Blake-Elahi 2009

Here’s a not-all-that-exciting video I shot showing the Sepulveda Boulevard mini-park,  Gate, bridge, Ballona Creek, and bike path:   

Continuing downstream, all the subsequent gates are the work of sculptor Brett Goldstone – the same artist who has created lots of great gates along many local waterways. Goldstone does beautiful work. Each of his gates is unique, with themes and features grounded in the local eco-system. His earliest, and perhaps most well-known, is his 1999 Great Heron Gate, on the Los Angeles River at Fletcher Drive. (For a listing of Goldstone’s river gates, see Brett Goldstone’s River Sculpture on page 84 of my book Down By The Los Angeles River.) 

Here’s the Inglewood Boulevard gate – see also the much better photo by Will Campbell – at Blogging L.A. 

Inglewood Boulevard gate by Brett Goldstone 2009

All of Goldstone’s Ballona Creek gates feature interesting juxtapositions of contrasting materials.  Mainly they have rough dark matte rusting steel against lighter silvery shiny stainless steel, and also contrasting river rock welded in. Goldstone’s gate at Inglewood Boulevard features some great depictions of the local birds. 

Great Blue Heron detail in Brett Goldstone's Inglewood Blvd gate

Black-Necked Stilts detail in Brett Goldstone's Inglewood Blvd gate

The next art gate is at Centinela Avenue. This one was installed in 2005 and isn’t too difficult to find featured around the internet. Here it is at L.A. Creek Freak for the first time.

Centinela Avenue gate by Brett Goldstone 2005

It also features local bird life:

Pelican detail in Brett Goldstone's Centinela Ave gate

Last, but not least, is Goldstone’s gate at McConnell Avenue – a smaller street immediately upstream of the Marina Freeway. Below is what this entrance point used to look like, complete with chain link fence, non-functioning call box, and an irritating low bar that one would have to dismount and lift one’s bike over (also blocking wheelchair access.)

McConnell access point before improvements, photo from BCR Newsletter

Below is more-or-less the same view today. The gate location has been moved down to the sidewalk at McConnell’s cul-de-sac, opening up the space along the creek to create a seating area.

McConnell Avenue access point today, nearly unrecognizable as the same location as the above photo. Gate is in the background at the base of the ramp.

The McConnell gate itself, shown at the very top of this article, is another Brett Goldstone creation. It’s a bit simpler than the others here, with a depiction of water, reeds, and hillside.

Kudos to the artists, the MRCA and all those involved in making these entry points more beautiful, welcoming, natural, lush and pleasant.

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