KOREATOWN: The mystery of the female bronze sculpture at the new RFK pocket park--seen here, still wrapped--has been solved. Bobbie Carlyle, the Colorado-based artist, emails in an explanation. We got goosebumps reading her email. Here's an edited version.
She writes: "In 1938 there was originally a bronze sculpture in the fountain at the same site, placed at the front entry leading to the Ambassador Hotel. The clientele at the time were the jet setters and political movers and shakers of the world who came to stay at the Hotel. It is not known who was the original sculptor, and we have only a few dark postcards and snapshots showing a female nude with billowing cape standing atop a wave... I was commissioned by LAUSD to recreate the sculpture. UPDATE: Photo of the original statue.
"I suggested to the committee that putting a thin gown on her was a better idea than repeating her nudity as she would be now next to a public school. There was a hint that the original model was Betty Grable, a beautiful movie actress popular at the time, but I could not find that in writing anywhere. I did use photos of her face as reference...Only a small mention on the back of one postcard tells us that there were flying fish darting in and out of the wave, as they are indistinct in the image.
I have named my version of the "woman with cape and flying fish standing on a wave" (to quote the postcard) a name that could be the start of the myth-story; I call her "Seaswept". My lady will require good care. If she is well-regarded and cared-for, she will stay beautiful and will be symbolic of the history and affluence that came from around the world and drove by her on their way to the Ambassador Hotel and the Coconut Grove. The silhouette and footprint of new LAUSD school are the same as their predecessors, and it hints that history is not that far past. It is in the present."