Upside down palm tree monument at Victoria Gardens marks completion of upgrade

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

By Neil Nisparos

RANCHO CUCAMONGA >> Victoria Gardens has marked the official completion of its Monet Street redevelopment project with the installation of a public art piece: a 35-foot-tall bronze monument in the form of an upside down Southern California palm tree.

The new monument, which is painted in an almost vibrating mix of red and blue and rests on a pedestal, is located in front of King’s Fish House, in a plaza area at the north end of Monet Street, and across from the mall’s food court.

The monument’s artist, Indianapolis-based Brian McCutcheon, said the upturned tree symbolizes the natural environment of the Inland Empire, coupled with the irreverence found in some of the area’s residents, with street art, punk music and artists like the late Frank Zappa, who recorded music in Rancho Cucamonga.

“It seemed to me that a symbol for the community might be a little irreverent and the proposal was to make a bronze statue of an upside down California fan palm, and I ended up working with a Los Angeles artist who grew up in the region,” McCutcheon said.

The monument was painted in industrial enamel by the Los Angeles-based artist Revok, also known as Jason Williams.

“It’s a monument of this time,” McCutcheon said. “It goes back to that sort of irreverence. I made the work to look like it was yanked out of the sidewalk, so there is a sidewalk grate and concrete (at the of the tree trunk) to look like it was set upside down on a pedestal. It’s meant to be playful and a contemporary play of what we might think a monument should be. It’s monumental in its own way, because of its unexpectedness.”

DG Hunt & Associates, a Manhattan Beach firm, was hired by Forest City to oversee public art for the Monet Street redevelopment project. New public art for the project includes mosaics, bollards, and engraved words along the street.

“What we’re hoping to do is bring a level of sophistication,” said Dave Hunt, president of the firm. “The goal is to see public art without having to go to Los Angeles. Our hope is that the local community will really embrace the inclusion of world class artwork in their local community, and take pride in it. We hope this can be the beginning of a long tradition of great new contemporary art in the Inland Empire.”

Work on the street, which is flanked by shops and runs south to north on the west side of the shopping center, saw the refurbishment of exterior facades, widened sidewalks for new patio dining, and introduced a new plaza area.