The Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Museum & Library Foundation has commissioned a one-of-a-kind tribute to the U.S. Marine Corps and the people who supported them. The monument centers on a twenty-foot tall glass sculpture prominently placed in front of the new Santa Barbara Airport Terminal. A significant element to this project is the Museum board’s strong commitment to telling the story of the airport when it served as a Marine base during WWII to help future generations recognize the vital role Santa Barbara played in ending the war.
It all began in November 2010, when the Santa Barbara Airport, on behalf of the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Museum (PCVM), issued a Public Art Request for Qualifications for the project. The “call,” open to artists nationwide, was for artwork to honor and commemorate those who served at the Santa Barbara Marine Air Station during World War II.
The veterans’ tribute is part of an overall Public Art Plan drafted by the Santa Barbara City Arts Advisory Commission and Visual Arts in Public Places Committee. Ojai resident Douglas Lochner was chosen to design a “significant and meaningful” public art sculpture to pay tribute to the Marines who served at this base.
The artist conducted extensive research on the WWII era and the airbase in Santa Barbara, including studying the museum’s collection, historic accounts and photographic materials.
Standing 20-feet tall and encompassing a green belt in front of the new terminal, the one-of-a-kind winged sculpture will have breathtaking optical properties, bending light and shadow to create unique vistas of the airport terminal and its surroundings.
The sculpture is a feat of modern engineering, with each wing consisting of six overlapping glass panels that represent feathers. These will be single contiguous panes of laminated glass forming a rigid self-standing cantilevered structure, the largest of its kind in the world.
Artist Douglas Lochner stated, “ Any memorial is a sensitive project, and one involving war is even more so. Rather than create a figurative representation such as a statue of a pilot or plane, I felt this tribute deserved a larger narrative, one that would circumvent the limitations of language and cultural heritage. I wanted to create something that involved the viewer, that enticed people to experience it, touching them on a primal level. I desired something uplifting and emotionally soaring – relaying the significant sacrifice these men and women made in service to others. Scale is an important aspect of this sculpture. It is soaring and dynamic, yet sensitive to the site, enhancing rather than dominating the space.”
The tribute uses the main winged sculpture as an arched portal leading to an integrated environment, featuring a gallery arrangement of etched glass monoliths, each relaying historical images and information on the base. The site will also include a dedicated WIFI media server offering even more details and historical information.
This is Douglas Lochner’s seventh public art commission. Other works in Santa Barbara County include two sculptures for the “Art from the Ashes” fundraiser benefiting the Santa Barbara Botanic gardens, a cast glass sculpture for the new Cottage Hospital, and a large stainless steel sculpture for the Cuyama Aquatic Center.