Coastal Allusions – 2002

Coastal Allusions ©2002
Bluff Erosion and Enhancement Project, 1st Street to 54th Street
Long Beach, Conceptual Master Plan.

Artists Terry Braunstein and Craig Cree Stone worked to create a design, which allows for a truly unique perceptual experience for the bluff and beach areas. They wanted to make one that was both visually interactive and physically engaging, allowing beachgoers to investigate the phenomena of visual perception in a variety of different ways. Stone and Braunstein believe that people would be attracted to the beach and bluff areas once they encountered a kind of playful, artistic, educational, scientific and historic “treasure hunt.” The delight of a “Fun House” (at the old Pike, perhaps) — that intriguing visual experience — is what the artists would like to suggest. The artists particularly like the idea that this type of experience is something that people might typically pay to see, and here is offered free to those who journey the length of Long Beach.

The “Coastal Design” will create the image of the entire coastline of Southern California and the coastal islands within the 54 blocks of the beach area. The design will include a pedestrian path and newly landscaped areas to define this “coastline”. This design also provides the logic for the expansion of vegetation onto the beach to help to mitigate the often-articulated perception that there is just too much arid and monotonous beach. The landscaped areas would consist primarily of native California plantings, similar to Bolsa Chica’s, evoking the rural coastal environment that would transition to grassy areas evoking the more park-like bluffs of California’s beaches like those of Santa Monica. The “Coastal Design” would also extend to the creation of islands of vegetation to depict each of the Channel Islands, creating oases along the pedestrian path to make the beach more interesting and inviting. This poetic connection between the real beach walkway and the imagined coast of Southern California will provide a unique educational attraction and identity for the bluff area.

One exciting aspect of this proposal is the view of the “coastline” at night, with the lighting along the pedestrian path paralleling the patterns of light seen at night along the coast of Southern California & Northern Baja, as if seen from an airplane. This sight, if viewed from the homes and high-rise apartments along Ocean Boulevard and the bluff, could be spectacular. Fire rings will be placed along the pedestrian path to encourage beach use at night and reference fires that early explorers saw when they approached the “Bay of Smokes” (Long Beach).

Signage, sculptural elements, lighting and “Viewfinders” will be used in order to create optical illusions. Unique elements intended to direct the viewer’s gaze called “Viewfinders” would be placed in several areas along the pedestrian path. They will direct beachgoers to points of visual interests, showcase optical illusions and interject images of historical moments into the actual landscape. These freestanding sculptural elements will create a welcoming and accommodating place for residents and visitors to enjoy the ocean views and bluff area.

Historical elements will be integrated throughout the project, into seating, signage and Viewfinders. The imagery will focus on the historical use and development of the beach and bluff areas. The articulation of Long Beach’s heritage would begin with Native American maritime history (Tongva/Gabrielino Indians), and continue with Long Beach at the turn of the last century, 1930’s, 1940’s and later.

While it is the goal of the entire program to maximize the views of the coastline, the artists’ improvements will focus the residents’ and visitors’ attention on these views in such a way as to exponentially expand their ways of seeing them within larger perceptual and historic frameworks.