New Center Makes a Splash

sanctuarySANTA CRUZ > Sanctuary Exploration Center lights up with art

A one-ton whale tale and an enormous arctic glass mural are the latest sculptural additions to Santa Cruz’s coast.  

The new Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center at 35 Pacific Ave. unveiled its two featured public art pieces on the evening of Tuesday, May 29. In anticipation of its grand opening in July, the center invited contributors and locals alike to a lighting ceremony in honor of the construction of the center, which will aim to provide an outlet for learning and discovering more about our waters and coast.

The event invited the artists of the two pieces to speak about the processes involved in constructing the center’s main works. “Fluke,” a life-sized whale tail cast from bronze, sits near the main entrance to the center, inviting visitors to touch and experience the piece firsthand. “The texture of the [whale] itself is really intriguing,” explain artists Scott Constable and Ene Osteraas-Constable of Wowhaus studio. “How it will change over time with weather and with use is intended … [it] is something really exciting to see. This has truly been our favorite public project to date.”

 “Sea Life Stewardship” lines the center’s main wall facing Pacific Avenue. Created by Meltdown Glass studio, the glass mural measures 40 feet by nine feet, and is suspended by a steel frame. The lighting ceremony featured the multiple colors that will shine through the piece during nighttime hours. “Very few studios work on the scale that we do,” says artist BJ Katz, who worked in collaboration with Chris Klein to create the finished work. “We hope that you are pleased with it forever,” Katz says. “That is our goal.”

The lighting ceremony was one example of how many hands have come together to produce this place for learning and exploration of our coast. Santa Cruz Mayor Don Lane attended the event. “Look around you,” he says, “This event, this building, this art, is a collaboration between everyone around you, and more.”

The grand opening for the Sanctuary Exploration Center will be held on July 23. For more information, visit nmsfocean.org/campaign/monterey-bay-national-marine-sanctuary-exploration-center-santa-cruz.

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