June 15, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

The story behind Century City’s colossal red statues

The art piece "High Hopes."
The art piece “High Hopes.”

As a young ceramicist professor at Chapman University (then Chapman College) in the late 1970s, Bret Price would take advantage of his regular faculty meetings to daydream and doodle. He wasn’t interested in the politics of academia. He just wanted to make art.

During one such meeting, he was consumed by what had happened earlier; during a regular session with a clay bowl and his kiln, Price had haphazardly stuck a piece of rebar through the oven’s peephole and watched it contort as if it were a wet piece of clay. He knew the steel would melt, but in the next faculty meeting, it dawned on him that this could be done on a much larger scale.

It would be something he had never seen before.

Today, Price’s towering red sculptures on Avenue of the Stars and Constellation Blvd. dominate Century City Sculpture 2015, a yearlong outdoor exhibit showcasing 20 artists, with over a quarter of the pieces belonging to Price. Officially launched March 10, Century City Sculpture 2015 is a collaborative effort between the community and the Arts Council of the Century City Chamber of Commerce, curated by longtime resident and art dealer Carl Schlosberg.

Price also created “Ball of Chain,” a 4-foot-wide globe made up of chains on the Watt Plaza in Century Park East.

“I knew that I could heat a big piece of metal and bend it significantly, and that would be different from anything I have ever seen,” Price recalled.
It was that initial desire to create something groundbreaking that has driven much of Price’s life work and was the guiding principle in his art philosophy.

The art work "Roll Up."
The art work “Roll Up.”

He bent his first piece of metal in 1979, and it took him three months to finish his first “monumental piece” in the parking lot of the Chapman arts department (it sits on display on campus to this day). Though now he could make the figure in three days, at the time, what he was doing he couldn’t look up in the library; it would have to be achieved through trial and error.

“What I do is I heat things and I let it cool,” Price put it plainly. He likened the preliminary stages of designing and building to Improv Theater, finding that his pieces come out better when he doesn’t try to force their image.

Price’s method involves building a heating chamber around large pieces of steel, applying concentrated and intense heat and then manipulating the material to create a sense of softness.

“If I’m bending a section of steel that weigh 1,500 pounds, it’s red hot, but it still weighs 1,500 pounds,” Price said. “So there’s a certain level of danger involved.”

Once the steel gets hot enough, gravity will start to bend it, so Price builds a support system that allows him to control the manipulated steel, “to keep it form going someplace I don’t want it to go.”

“The action of the bending process starts after it’s bent,” Price said. “You have to figure out how its going to present itself and be what is it so that it looks good. Just because you bend a piece of metal doesn’t mean it’s going to look good. So most of the work goes in after the bending. It’s an interesting way to make a living.”

The five of the Price’s red pieces were made from 2002 to 2011 in his studio in Ohio, where he makes all of his monumental pieces. And according to him, getting it across the country is just a matter of calling the right people with the right equipment.

Price said he could be working on anywhere from 10 to 14 pieces at a time, often setting something aside if it has no clear direction. Except for a few occasions, he names them when he’s done.

“I sit down with the photographs of the piece at the end of the day,” Price said. “I try to find something that triggers some kind of nuance from the piece. I can’t go through life with numbered pieces.”

With names like “Roll-Up,” “High Hopes,” “Zig Zag,” “Triad,” and “Godot,” Price’s red monuments compete with the high rises of Century City as they reach heights of up to 30 feet.

“I like to create movement, I like to create unexpected balance and I like my work to have lift, for the most part,” Price explained. “So I’m dealing with unexpected forms and unexpected balance, and they’re really exercises in expression of form. As simple and as complex as that is, that’s what I do.”
And the red comes from his own predilection for primary colors in his large-scale sculptures.

“I like a red with a little blue in it, rather than a yellow. I like a red that goes towards blues rather than the oranges. It’s a softer red, a gentler, kinder red,” Price said with a chuckle. “It’s just a good color. I just react to it. I do a lot of different colors on my smaller work, but on the big ones, the red seems to work very well.”

Price grew up in Los Angeles and experienced his first art class at L.A. High School. Then, while a pre-med senior at Pomona College in Claremont, he took a ceramics class that would eventually force him to change his life’s trajectory.

He fell in love with the immediacy of clay, and with two courses left to finish his degree; he switched to an art major and took on an extra semester of work.

“I’m drawn to stuff that’s original and stuff that’s non-derivative and has something I haven’t seen before. That’s what I try to do,” Price said.
While living in Orange with his wife, Price has found a new artist’s studio enclave in Santa Ana called the Logan Creative. Along with his son Gregory, 31, a glass-casting sculptor, they work and share the former spiral staircase manufacturing building with other art studios, art exhibitions, workshops, and performance spaces.

“I’m about to go back [to Ohio] and bend an 88 foot long piece of steel that weighs 5 tons,” Price said. “It’s the longest piece of metal I’ve ever done. I’m really excited.”

in News
Related Posts

Marina del Rey Sportfishing: A Great Day on the Water

June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

Fishing is a pastime like no other. You can experience the nostalgia of that pastime in real time at Marina...

Culver City Police Collaborate with VA and LASD to Aid Unhoused Veteran

June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

Joint Efforts Lead to Successful Assistance for a Veteran in Need The Culver City Police Mental Evaluation Team collaborated with...

University of Miami President to Replace Gene Block Amid Controversy

June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

Julio Frenk Named New UCLA Chancellor at UC Regents Meeting The search for a new chancellor at UCLA is over....

West Hollywood Kicks Off WeHo Pride Arts Festival This Weekend

June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

Celebration Features Diverse LGBTQ+ Events From June 14-16 Each year, the City of West Hollywood celebrates the artistic contributions of...

30th Anniversary of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman Murders Commemorated with Virtual Vigil

June 13, 2024

June 13, 2024

Family Honors Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in Virtual Candlelight Vigil This week marks the 30th anniversary of the...

Los Angeles County Launches Historic LGBTQ+ Commission with Inaugural Meeting

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

Supervisor Hilda Solis Leads Ceremony Marking Milestone for LGBTQ+ Advocacy Los Angeles County Supervisors convened Tuesday to inaugurate the county’s...

Students for Justice in Palestine Establish Third Encampment on the UCLA Campus on June 10

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

UCLA Administration Calls in Four Police Groups Within Two Hours, Arrests 27 Pro-Palestinian protesters briefly established a third encampment on...

Los Angeles City Council Postpones Vote on Marilyn Monroe’s Former Home

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

Decision on Historic Monument Status Rescheduled for June 26  After Judge James Chalfant issued a preliminary decision on the motion...

AMC Theatres Unveils Eight Money-Saving Deals for Summer Movie Season

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

Enjoy Discounted Tickets, Special Promotions, and Fan Favorites at AMC If you are a movie lover who has not been...

Hang-Ten Therapeutics-Surf Therapy for Kids: Catching Waves and Finding your Calm

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

A different type of therapy is making waves in Los Angeles. Hang-Ten Therapeutics, founded by Naomi Matanick, a licensed pediatric...

(Video) The Opening of Pico Roots Marketplace in Santa Monica

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

Lots of friendly vendors with wonderful gifts, cards, clothing, decor, and coffee beans available at 1819 Pico Boulevard. @centurycitywestwoodnews The...

Tien Pham Connects Personal History with Role in Robert Downey Jr.’s “The Sympathizer”

June 11, 2024

June 11, 2024

Family’s Harrowing Escape From Vietnam Mirrors the Acclaimed HBO Max Series Vietnamese American actor-musician-producer Tien Pham finds a deep connection...

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Debuts Refreshing Summer Menu with New Boba and Matcha Drinks

June 11, 2024

June 11, 2024

Enjoy Four New Beverages and Exclusive Boba Happy Hours from June 10 to June 13 The Coffee Bean & Tea...

FDA Issues Warning on Potentially Contaminated Shellfish from Oregon and Washington

June 11, 2024

June 11, 2024

Shellfish From These Areas Carries Risk of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning The FDA has issued an alert advising consumers, restaurants, and...

(Video) Pro-Palestine Student Protesters at UCLA Set Up a Third Encampment on Monday Afternoon

June 11, 2024

June 11, 2024

UCPD and the UCLA Administration almost immediately called in UCPD, LAPD, Culver City Police Department and California Highway Patrol officers....