An artist rendering of Douglas Lochner's proposed veterans memorial sculpture for Santa Barbara Airport


An artist rendering of Douglas Lochner's proposed veterans memorial sculpture for Santa Barbara Airport

Angel Wings at the Airport

$1 Million Public Art Project to Commemorate WWII Vets and Santa Barbara Marine Corps Air Station

Thursday, May 3, 2012
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To remember the days when the Santa Barbara Airport was a U.S. Marine Corps training center for fighter pilots and bomber squadrons, and to honor the American men and women who put their lives on hold or on the line to fight WWII, a memorial sculpture is planned for the front walkways of the airport’s new terminal.

Two 20-foot-tall wings, each composed of six overlapping “feathers” made with laminated glass, would sit perpendicular to each other at the intersection of two footpaths, gently curving inward and allowing visitors to pass under. At night, they’d be illuminated from below with LED lights.

The project — designed by Ojai Valley artist Douglas Lochner — gained preliminary approval from the city’s Architectural Board of Review (ABR) this week and, though it’s received unanimous support from veterans groups, arts associations, and airport administrators, must keep running the gauntlet of oversight committees before it’s fabricated. Up next is the Planning Commission then back to the ABR for final approval.

Lochner worked closely for two years with John Blankenship, founder of the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Museum, and Karen Ramsdell, airport director, to settle on a design. The whole project is expected to cost around $1 million, the funds being raised by Blankenship and his organization. Blankenship said he hopes to have the money and approvals in place by next year, with installation coming in spring 2013.

It’s stunning, said Blankenship, how few area residents know that the airport was a training facility for Marine pilots from 1942-1946. It was established, he explained, as the U.S. government was building military bases up and down the West Coast to better supply troops and equipment for the Pacific Campaign. The pilots who practiced in Santa Barbara would deploy to carriers and other airfields. When the war ended, the airport went back to commercial and civilian use.

Lochner, who sold his technology consulting firm in 2006 to become a creator of public art, said the proposed sculpture’s design is inspired not by conflict but by the good in people. “I wanted it to be uplifting,” he said, “to show the best of the human spirit.” He explained, there’s no war imagery in the piece (no planes, no guns, no Marine Corps globe and eagle) so that the focus is honoring the personal sacrifice so many made — a giving of themselves, an angelic act.

“The sculpture is to celebrate that,” said Lochner. “It shows a coming together for common good,” he went on, noting he was unsure how veterans would interpret his approach. “Most consider themselves warriors. But I see them as angels. Not in a religious sense but in a testament to the human spirit.” The glass medium, he said, complements that intangible, ethereal interpretation. “The fact that [veterans] embraced that and saw the value was thrilling,” said Lochner.

EDITOR'S NOTE: We've fixed the typo that originally appeared in this story.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

There should be a fitting tribute to our war heroes. But. I'm afraid this sculpture is completely incompatible with the appearance of the new terminal, which is already getting cluttered; it seems destined to never be half as nice as the old one.

Frankly, the proposal looks horrid as shown, and I cannot imagine how or where it could be placed in the vicinity where it would NOT be an eyesore.

Over the years, the maintenance of this sculpture must be considered. Glass is inherently fragile, very difficult, and very expensive to repair (earthquakes?). And sadly one tagger wielding a hardened scribe can quickly turn a work of art into an embarrassing mess.

Please, speak up for something less garish, and more appropriate.

itsacrockof (anonymous profile)
May 3, 2012 at 11:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

According to the article it is "...made with laminated grass..." If only! Kudos to the Indy for their continuing reluctance to hire a copy editor.

The thing is ugly. Dump it.

SezMe (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2012 at 12:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I agree with the first two, besides ugly and a Taggers dream, depending on the thickness of the glass, it could pose a heath risk to those under the display during daylight hours; "think ants under a magnifying-glass".

dou4now (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2012 at 6:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I think this is really a great idea. The clear, GLASS wings would be perfect for our new airport.

As far as not fitting in with the architecture & being a taggers paradise, not a chance. How many gang bangers & taggers are going to ride all the way to the airport, under the eyes of all the security & tag? Forget it! Zip.

I say bring this great piece of public art to the airport and dedicate it to the veterans.

Barron (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2012 at 7:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I think it could be awe-inspiring.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2012 at 8 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I am fine with the idea of a memorial honoring our vets and the Marine Corps Air station but I strongly oppose this proposal. As others have noted, it would crowd and divide the open space in front of the airport, a TERRIBLE idea (check out the problems and acrimony resulting from the placement and eventual removal of Richard Serra's structure). Maintenance would cost a lot of money - this at an airport that cannot afford to keep a plane there to fight our inevitable and recurring wildfires. Put this piece in the garden at the Museum of Natural History - the airport needs something less grandiose and pretentious, perhaps smaller and more identifiable as relating to the men/women and planes that it is intended to honor.

Justice (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2012 at 8:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Wow. A million bucks, eh? I'm all for honoring our veterans, but a single art installation for a million dollars? I realize it's private money, but couldn't it be put to better use at the VA or some organization that supports veterans??

And seriously, guys, what's with the typos? This isn't the first time a word germane to the discussion is completely wrong. Especially when R is completely across the keyboard from L.

sbdude (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2012 at 8:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Very pretty, but a million bucks?? Nope, way too much. Also have any of you been in the elevator in the Ralph's on Carrillo and seen what happened to that glass? Yup, I give it less than 6 months before someone defaces it. They don't even have to run across the freeway. I wonder what those corn husk shaped lights under the Milpas overpass cost my tax paying self?

bimboteskie (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2012 at 10:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I'd prefer a monument to future peace than past war.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2012 at 11:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Really cheesy. It looks like a giant fly died in front of the building.

SBthinksso (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2012 at 11:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ask Bud Bottoms

passagerider (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2012 at 4:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Interesting but TOO BIG. It overshadows the design of the airport!

Bean (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2012 at 8:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Two beautiful things (the artwork and the building) that look terrible together. At least from the vantage point of the photo.

Ryansbca (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2012 at 10:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ugly is right.

Also angel wing are religious icons, inappropriate symbol for some military folks who may not be Christian.

taz (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2012 at 3 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You see an angel; I see an eagle, someone else sees Ruffles Potato Chips.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2012 at 3:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The Muslim and Judaic faiths also have angels..

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2012 at 3:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

There isn't anything in the world that would satisfy the diverse population of santa Barbara. Personally I think the wings are beautiful and an appropriate memento to the pilots who flew from this airport.

lmeoriole (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2012 at 6:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

1 million dollars could buy a lot of planks for stearns wharf.

GluteousMaximus (anonymous profile)
May 7, 2012 at 7:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, it's hard to get people in Santa Barbara to agree. But the memorial and the building do not look good together! I have a degree in design and there are some principles that are just common sense. I repeat, the memorial is TOO BIG!!

Bean (anonymous profile)
May 7, 2012 at 7:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Is it size or placement Bean? Monuments should be monumental. But it does seem incongruous next to rhe building. Overall I think the sculpture itself is cool.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 7, 2012 at 7:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Monuments need not be "monumental" in size - the eternal flame at the John F. Kennedy's gravesite is small but powerful. The proposed sculpture will divide and crowd the open space in front the airport. In addition to its enormous cost, I don't find it aesthetically appealing in the least and I agree with many of the observations made here. No one expects everyone to agree on it, but there is nothing wrong with people weighing in on it - if enough people really don't want or like it, maybe it should be reconsidered - not clear to me who has ultimate authority over the matter.

Justice (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2012 at 11:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It is indeed great to hear people's feelings about things; especially something so gaudy and inappropriate for the proposed higher purpose of honoring Veterans.

Now, since many of us have been given a chance to be heard, how ever can our voices be directed toward the Airport officials?

I looked on-line for "public comment" on this, and there's nowhere to go!

Help? Anyone???

itsacrockof (anonymous profile)
May 11, 2012 at 12:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I believe it was Mr. Blankenship that said ...they couldn't get something with military meaning past the Arts Commission...
The Marines built and staffed the airport. There were countless Marines in support positions there as well as pilots.
The airport was a significant factor in training during the war and this deserves to be recognized. The current "memorial" plan does nothing to impart the the very proud history of the of the airport to visitors.
I have great admiration for the group that would like to build a memorial, but this is not a is ART (similar but infinitely better than the infamous and extremely offensive chromatic gate).
The arts commission should concede to a legitimate memorial which recognizes the men and women who staffed and trained at the Marine Base in WWII.

Oldnoleta46 (anonymous profile)
July 20, 2012 at 7:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The proposed memorial of feathery glass wings at the SB airport offers no praise for the pilots and crew of US Marine Corps WWII effort to protect our country from the threat of another Japanese assault after Pearl Harbor and the shelling assault on our oil facilities near the Ellwood beach area. It suggests complacency on the part of the uninformed visiting viewers and bureaucrats, and implies it was a fairy tale. But it was no fairy tale. We were at war, for God's sake.
Before the proposed monstrosity is authorized, we urgently need another opinion from active and retired military pilots, crews and surviving family members of pilots killed or wounded, and ignore the hype from self-serving politicians and administrators who did not put their lives on hold or at risk..

gpratt (anonymous profile)
August 11, 2013 at 8:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I would much rather see a vintage airplane used by the Marines in SB during WWII. Park it near the public lot on the East end of the airport. Let it serve as a simple reminder of the era, the technology, and the Marines who flew and maintained such aircraft during the war. There are countless examples of such memorials using aircraft in the US and elsewhere. The designer means well, but the glass wings are lame.

Simpleton (anonymous profile)
February 2, 2015 at 1:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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