The Doheny Village shark sculpture commemorates the industrial village of Doheny
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By Breeana Greenberg
Unused pieces of steel have found new life in the form of abstract art sculptures in the Village of Doheny as part of the Village of Doheny Public Art Program. At the end of the Las Vegas Avenue cul-de-sac, the scrap metal shark sculpture overlooks the nearby welding and steel fabrication site and Doheny Builders Supply.
Steel fabricators Jerry Lansky and Chris Caldwell had saved unused scrap from different projects for years, hoping to commemorate the history of the Doheny Village welding site in a public work of art. Lansky has worked at the yard since the 1980s, with Caldwell and Lansky running the yard together now, working on structural steel fabrication.
The sculpture is the latest installation in Doheny Village’s public art program, in addition to a public mural that was installed at the corner of Las Vegas Avenue and Doheny Park Road in February.
In July 2018, the city began work on updating the zoning code for the Village of Doheny. The Village of Doheny Public Art Program is included in the Village of Doheny Capital Improvement Plan.
In February 2021, the village’s beautification committee identified “concepts for potential public spaces and industrial-inspired sculptural art”, the Dana Point Time Previously reported.
Throughout the rezoning efforts, city staff have been working with the Doheny Village Merchants Association to try to “understand what makes Doheny Village special for these people,” Pro Tem Mayor Mike Frost said at a ceremony. inauguration of the sculpture on July 21.
“What I see is a city that works well with the people here, not to change, but to improve and leverage the uniqueness here to create a great place,” Frost said.
Staff worked closely with Lansky and Caldwell throughout the project, Caldwell said.
“The city has really been behind us all the way with everything we’ve been trying to do,” Lansky said.
“When we had our meetings with the Doheny Village Merchants Association, part of what they wanted here was some kind of art in public places or something in the neighborhood, to shine the place a bit, and we were like, ‘Well, we can make a kind of structural steel work of art,’” Lansky said.
The scrap pieces “sat on a pallet for a long time and we got tired of moving them around,” Lansky said. “All of these pieces are leftovers from an actual piece for a job. I knew when I cut it we were going to make something out of it, but when you have a full-time job, it’s hard to stop and do something artistic like that.
There was no real plan ahead of time, Chris Caldwell said of the sculpture, “It just sort of happened.”
The entire sculpture was constructed from scrap metal.
“As we found pieces lying on the ground that looked like the shark, I said, ‘Hey, that looks like a shark’ and Chris said, ‘Step aside, I’m going to make the shark. ”
The sculpture’s upper pieces or “wings” portion were from a project with Jon L. Construction, and the gears were from a local rebar supplier and a neighbor’s tractor.
The back of the sculpture features a piece of fender from a Harley-Davidson motorcycle owned by Eddie Hygh, one of Lansky’s friends. Eddie Hygh worked with Lansky for years at the manufacturing site before passing away in June 2020, according to his son, Chance Hygh.
“My dad spent a lot of time here with Jerry doing a lot of steel fabrication,” Chance Hygh said. “He was the brains and the numbers, and Jerry was the talent and the metal, basically.”
Eddie Hygh had been in a motorcycle accident, Chance said. Lansky asked to use the “broken wing” to incorporate into the sculpture.
“It’s a great way to honor him and contribute to the city,” Chance said. “I didn’t know this was happening, so it’s cool to see.”
The new sculpture at the end of the bustling industrial cul-de-sac was a collaboration of members of the local business community with the aim of beautifying the village of Doheny.
“You have no idea unless you’re here at 8 a.m. on a Monday morning how much commerce is going on in this little area, and all the people going in and out of Doheny Village Supply or going in and out of Robling Mill, said board member Jamey Federico.
Caldwell noted that he hopes more unique, handmade artwork will be added to the city in the future.
“I know when people come here and turn around because they’re lost, they’re going to see that, and they’re going to notice it, hopefully, because it’s kind of cool,” Caldwell said. “I hope there will be more.”
Lansky added that the sculpture commemorates the site’s decades-long historic use for welding and construction, while serving to beautify the area.
“I think it’s great because we’re still doing heavy structural steel fabrication here, but it can also be pretty at the same time,” Lansky said. “We mix the two very well, and it’s been 50 or 60 years on this street.”
Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Prior to joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance journalist for the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at [email protected]
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