Orange County and Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi

I hope you had a chance to attend the Martha Graham Dance Co. last weekend at South Coast Repertory Theatre in Costa Mesa. The four-day program included "Embattled Garden," "Cave of the Heart" and "Appalachian Spring" —- three of the 22 Graham dance works that featured spare, abstract sets designed by Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi.

Noguchi, who died in 1988, is well known to Orange County residents for his "California Scenario" sculpture garden, located just a few hundred yards south of South Coast Rep between two office buildings.

In 1979, real estate developer/philanthropist Henry T. Segerstrom commissioned Noguchi to create a 1.6-acre public garden between the buildings. The result, "California Scenario," is Noguchi’s abstract view of the state — with sculptural representations of mountains, rivers, forests, beaches and deserts. (The Segerstrom family developed South Coast Plaza shopping center and donated the land and much of the underwriting for the city’s arts district, including the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, formerly known as the Orange County Performing Arts Center.)

Noguchi’s legacy is the focus of a JapanOC exhibit that opened last weekend at the Laguna Art Museum. The exhibit, which continues through May 15, includes more than 50 sculptures and 50 drawings spanning more than 50 years of Noguchi’s career. The Laguna exhibit also includes a tribute to "California Scenario," featuring an original model of the garden, memorabilia, photographs and film footage of the garden, which turns 30 this year.

From the North County Times. Read more:

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