Carlton Lund, a Carlsbad real estate broker and the former chairman of the board of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, invited community members to a public meeting to discuss his proposed 20 feet tall archway sign to be located near Carlsbad Village Drive, and spanning the width of Carlsbad Boulevard, but to Lund’s dismay, he was greeted with more naysayers than he may have expected.
The Village Terrace above the Daily News Cafe in the Carlsbad Village filled promptly at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30 with representatives from the City of Carlsbad, the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and organizations, local artists and community enthusiasts.
After a short introduction by Chamber member and application handler Mike Howes of Howe’s Weiler & Associates, some attendees’ hands raised high with discontent over what they referred to as a “cartoony” and “silly” image of a smiling dolphin named “Darlene.” This image is planned to sit atop the sign.
While many showed support for a sign in the Carlsbad Village, some disapproved of the image of the dolphin, as well as the “overpowering” size and the cultural significance of the sign, but the most interesting displeasure voiced during this community meeting regarded the definition of “art” and the validation of the chosen artist.
Robert Wyland, a world-famous artist renowned for painting marine life, is planned to donate the artwork for the center of the sign, but many consider Wyland’s image not exactly art. “Dolphin Smile Porthole” is a piece Wyland reproduces often. Some categorized it as merchandise — it has been made available on the Home Shopping Network — and upset attendees considered it more Wyland Galleries branding than a unique piece of art. The City of Carlsbad Arts Commission has already denied support for the same reasoning.
Concerns immediately filled the room questioning the validation of Wyalnd as a representative of Carlsbad. He is not, nor has he ever been, a resident of Carlsbad. Though the icon of a dolphin is appropriate for the Carlsbad Village by the Sea, it is named after his mother Darlene Wyland and vice president of Wyland Worldwide — a name that lacks significance to Carlsbad, its history or its community.
Not all of the community input was negative. Just as many community members showed their excitement for the sign and their support for Darlene the Dolphin. If approved, the sign design, construction and installation, as well as the dolphin sculpture, will be financed by a generous donation of $225,000 by TaylorMade Golf. Of that donation, $50,000 will cover the cost of supplies for the sculpture. The ultimate cost to the City of Carlsbad will be $0.
If approved, this sign will become one of the city’s most photographed landmarks. A question worth asking is why Wyland was awarded the opportunity to stamp his company branding on the sign? A group of local artists questioned why there was not an open invitation for other artists to submit designs?
As a Wyland Foundation member of the board of directors, Lund has pushed for Wyland’s artwork in the past. In the late 1990s Lund attempted to persuade the City of Carlsbad to allow Wyland to paint on the northern wall of the Encina Powerplant. The request was denied.
The meeting began with handshakes, hugs and pleasantries, but to the surprise of the proposed archway sign supporters, the audience was scattered with disapproving looks that passionately applauded after each voiced their concerns of the sign size, the sign location and the aesthetics and iconography of the sign sculpture, as well as Lund’s unwillingness to publicly invite other artist applicants.
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