A celebration of Del Mar’s first public artwork, a sculpture by acclaimed artist James Hubbell, took place on June 3, 2022, with the unveiling of two bronze plaques at a reception held in front of the Del Mar Library, the sculpture’s location. The event was co-sponsored by the Del Mar Foundation (DMF) and Friends of the Del Mar Library.
The sculpture was installed in 1999, following a generous donation to DMF from an anonymous donor to underwrite the acquisition of the bronze and redwood sculpture titled “A River of Time.” Del Mar resident Susan Childs had recently noticed that the sculpture had no identifying plaques, and donated to DMF to underwrite the cost of a plaque at the base of the sculpture, and a second, larger plaque visible to people viewing the artwork from the sidewalk.
Artist James Hubbell, now 90, sent his thank yous to the gathering to celebrate the sculpture and unveil the new plaques. As a Board member of the Ilan-Lael Foundation — the arts organization started by James and his wife Anne — I had occasion to talk with James in advance of the reception about Del Mar and this sculpture. James well recalled his early days in Del Mar. He first came to Del Mar in 1941 as a young boy, and after the war his stepfather had an ocean-fishing tackle shop here, during the heyday of the Del Mar fishing pier era. After his parents divorced, James’s mother converted the shop in 1948 into a women’s clothing boutique called “Flair” before going on to own a hotel in Rancho Santa Fe.
Many have wondered if the sculpture’s three redwood posts, each capped with copper, have always been companions to the bronze wave-form. The answer is yes, says James: “The sculpture’s posts have something to do with the pier, and they are also an offset to the ocean — something to balance the piece, make it part of the land.”
Seeking Beauty, Jim’s Gift, a new biography of Hubbell’s life by Angie Brenner with Sarah Jamieson, is available in Del Mar at Anne Mery’s book corner inside Julie’s Beachwear.