Heaven’s Gate

While on campus, prior to the coronavirus situation, I would walk past this bronze surfboard sticking out of a rock in front of the college of business building. After further research, I found this brown stick is called Heaven’s Gate created by Woods Davy in 1996. Heaven’s Gate is supposed to symbolize “the peaceful coexistence of natural and man-made forms” while “stretching for the heavens” and “offering a gateway to an unknown place.”[1] Honestly, I just don’t see it. It is in one of the most trafficked areas on campus, right next to the college of business and pyramid parking structure, but it is a massive eyesore and has the name of a UFO cult created in 1974.[2] Davy found inspiration through African and Oceanic and looked for elements that “expressed fertility, initiation, reincarnation, and other kinds of transformation rituals”[1] which may explain its phallic representation.

Looking past its appearance, I can see this sculpture representing the union between the city and nature. When I think of Long Beach, I don’t think of the cities as I would think of LA. In “Los Angeles Cost as a Public Place”, Davidson and Entrikin present the idea that the “coast has come to symbolize the community and is consciously defended against anticommunal private development and idealized as an inclusive public place.” Citizens of LA classify their beaches as a “public space”, but it is separate from the city life. If Davy were to illustrate LA in his artwork, the “gate” part of Heaven’s Gate would be a separate entity and the rocks (nature) would be a few feet away to symbolize the drive that one would have to take to the beach. In Long Beach, I believe the city integrates well into nature as shown by the port of Long Beach being one of the largest ports and it is known for its waterfront attractions.[3]

Picture of it that I took on February 27th

[1] https://artslb.org/public-art/heavens-gate/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven%27s_Gate_(religious_group)

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Beach,_California

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