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Laguna Beach

 Volume 13, Issue 75  |  September 17, 2021

“Art in Public Places” – The Love That Binds by Rude Calderón and Roberto Delgado


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

This is the 26th article in our weekly series featuring Art in Public Places. Since there are over 100 pieces of public art scattered throughout Laguna, it will take a while to cover them all.

Some of the art you see around Laguna Beach is the result of two city programs: “Public Art and Murals” and “Art in Public Places.” The goals of the Public Art and Murals and Art in Public Places (adopted in 1986) initiatives are to create diverse art installations of the highest quality that will, over decades, reflect the city itself and its citizens, and improve the quality of life; and to be a source of pride to all Laguna Beach residents. 

The Love That Binds, a travertine and tile bench created by Rude Calderón and Roberto Delgado, was installed in Crescent Bay Point Park in North Laguna in 2016.

Funded by Norman Powell, it celebrates the “50 years of love” he shared with his late wife Armena. Powell was part of the city’s open space committee that zoned the area as the site for a potential public park in the 1970s.

Art in bench front

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“The Love That Binds” benches celebrate Norman Powell’s love for his late wife Armena

“Norman wanted to gift funds for a public art piece in memory of his wife, but he wanted to experience the piece himself and see others enjoy the installation, which he has been doing,” says Cultural Arts Manager Sian Poeschl. “Making a donation to public art and enjoying it during your lifetime is such a gift.

“Currently we are undertaking a review of the Public Art Ordinance and Policy and will be considering approaches and addressing donations for the future. This study should take 8 to 12 months and will provide comprehensive review and policy for future permanent and temporary art installations.”


Calderón is known for his stone carvings and Delgado for his hand-painted tile and silk screening techniques.

Calderón was born in San Jose, Costa Rica, where he spent the first seven years of his life. His family immigrated with him to Los Angeles in 1964 where he has remained all his life. His father apprenticed and worked in his uncle Manuel Zuñiga’s sculpture studio, creating religious sculpture in the Spanish baroque tradition. His deep respect for materials and craftsmanship is rooted in this family history.

Delgado says, “My work evolves from the reality of the photo. I was born and raised in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles, did my time in the U.S. Army, and UCLA’s graduate MFA program. I spent most of the 70s and 80s in Chiapas State, Mexico, where I honed my skills in murals and public art.” 

Art in ocean view

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The benches overlook the ocean view from Crescent Bay Point Park

Both artists were inspired by their surroundings and translated that into their work. Delgado’s hand-painted tiles are reminiscent of the vibrancy and history of Mexico City, and Calderón’s use of stone reflects the intrinsic beauty of nature.

“In 1985 I was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and lived in Mexico City, working on large monotypes and murals,” continues Delgado. “I saw the influence of Mexican-American-Chicano barrio realism on the Mexico City art world first-hand, with young artists discovering the gritty streets of their own city.” 

“Stone as a medium inspires my appreciation of its dynamic and intrinsic natural beauty, and its perpetual place in human history,” says Calderón. “The materials and methods used are those that resonate most with my own nature and thoughts; my lifelong interest in geology, sculpture, and mystical philosophy stirred my vocation in art. It’s a living natural material that provides me with the dynamics required for concepts that ponder and question our state of consciousness and the essence that unites us as human beings.”

Crescent Bay Point Park is located where Cliff Drive intercepts North Coast Hwy.

For a map of Art in Public Places (not every piece is listed), click here.

To apply for the Arts in Public Places program, click here.


Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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