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Ventura Public Art Gets New Description: Bizarre

The large, looping metal structure that doubles as a bus shelter and a work of art at Pacific View mall in Ventura has been called many things over the years.


A monstrosity. Spectacularly playful. Atrocious. An outstanding accomplishment.


Now, Yahoo News has applied a new adjective to the “Bus Home” sculpture — bizarre.


In a weekly Top 5 feature that profiles various things, the 36-foot-tall sculpture was named the second most bizarre piece of public art in the United States. While it beat out the “Blue Mustang” at Denver International Airport and the solar sunflowers of Austin, Texas, first prize went to Chicago’s “Crown Fountain,” which has revolving digital photos of locals on a 50-foot screen.


That Ventura made the list is no surprise to Denise Sindelar, the city’s community partnerships manager. Since it went up in 2002, the work by artist Dennis Oppenheim has attracted attention for its unique and unusual form. It was on the cover of a German book about the artist and was mentioned in another book, “Destination Art.”


Of the more than 60 pieces of public art in the city, Oppenheim’s piece attracts the most attention and the most dialogue.


“I think he is trying to get people to think and talk about public art, and that is what ‘Bus Home’ does,” Sindelar said.


Oppenheim, 71, died in January after leaving his trademark artworks around the world. His website explains “Bus Home” as a work that “slowly transforms from a bus to a house,” although the rest of the description is somewhat cryptic.


“For the tired and often alienated traveler, the experience of waiting wished to be intervened by the realization that the transaction will be complete,” the site says. “The passengers will arrive at their destination. They will arrive home.”


Sindelar said she thinks people’s initial sour opinions of the piece have quelled over the years as they have gotten accustomed to it and, more recently, as the north end of the mall was developed and blends in.


Perhaps that’s why Venessa Cedillos never realized she was sitting under a work of art all these years she’s been catching the bus.


“I never really paid attention to it,” she said.


Abel Monzon, who has been coming to the bus stop for years, said: “I have no idea what it is. I never really looked at it.”


Even if he doesn’t get what the artist was trying to do, Monzon likes that it’s there and that it’s an effort to make the city look nice.


Lorraine Quintanilla is an art major at CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo who appreciates public art that makes people think.


“As a sculpture piece, I think it’s nice,” she said as she sat in its dappled shade. “But I would love it if it covered more.”


Frank Padilla of Ventura went further: “There’s no shelter when it rains. It’s a big waste of money.”


Geoff Tudor likes the design, calling it “ebullient and uplifting” and saying it has grown on him over time. Although he agrees it is quirky, he wonders whether it really should be near the top of the quirky list, considering all the public art in the U.S.


The Yahoo News feature is all over the map in its selections and categories. Other recent lists include “Top 5 places to live in another century” and “Top 5 places your car isn’t welcome.”


Tudor’s main complaint is that if you are waiting for the bus and standing under the sculpture, you can’t really get what it is. That only happens when you are at a distance, driving past in a car.


“The irony is the people in the car may appreciate it more than the people who take the bus,” he said.


Published in Ventura County Star.

Posted in: News