Hidden behind tall glass office towers, California Scenario is a vision California’s diverse geography as interpreted by the artist, Isamu Noguchi. Noguchi is known primarily as a sculptor. However, he has often been erroneously considered a landscape architect, a designation he dismissed. Noguchi’s creative practice and designs were not developed from a formal education or from conventions in the profession of landscape architecture. His approach was from that of a sculptor who understands the world through materials. His garden and landscape designs were, as he saw them, one of sculpting spaces, carving out areas where people could congregate. Noguchi would first consider what was fundamental to the specific site he was designing. This space could take the form of a piazza-like plaza or a child’s imaginary encounter with nature.
“The works of Isamu Noguchi are inspiring. CALIFORNIA SCENARIO will have a profound impact on the lives of all of us living within Orange County and throughout the state. It is a legacy from Isamu Noguchi to his birthplace.”
– Henry T. Segerstrom
California Scenario, a 1.6-acre public sculpture garden, was created as a series of landscapes within a landscape. “Water Source,” “Water Use,” “The Desert Land,” “The Forest Walk,” “Land Use,” and “Energy Fountain,” are distinct schemes that symbolize characteristics inherent in the California landscape. Completed in 1982, California Scenario is both a metaphorical garden and a minimalist theatrical installation.
While many of his sculptures are in the collections of the world’s most important museums, Noguchi increasingly became associated with the design of gardens and outdoor spaces toward the end of his 60-year career. During his lifetime, he established a garden museum of in Queens, New York, which opened to the public in 1985.
In 1999, based on Noguchi’s last wishes, another museum was created on the island of Shikoku in Japan, where he had a studio for many years. The museum showcases the atelier where Noguchi created his largest stone sculptures.
A part of the Segerstrom Media Lab collection, this video was captured by Michael Rich during the construction period of California Scenario, a 1.4 acre public park located in Costa Mesa by Isamu Noguchi commissioned by Henry T. Segerstrom.
Discovering Costa Mesa: The California Scenario Garden produced by Costa Mesa TV3