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Vibrant octopus that adds splash of color to San Clemente Pier part of public art project

An array of sea life can be seen during a stroll on the San Clemente Pier: gray whales passing on their annual migrations, dolphins frolicking near surfers and even the occasional great white shark.

Now, an octopus will be a must-see for pier enthusiasts. It’s not a live one, but a colorful piece of public art unveiled this week as part of an ongoing improvement project for the historic pier in Orange County’s southernmost beach town.

The new art adorning the restroom door on the pier, called “Open Door Policy,” was created by artist Andi Goud as part of an initiative by the nonprofit PierPride Foundation, a group dedicated to preserving the pier, which is over 90 years old.



“Every time I get an opportunity to do something for the community, I feel so blessed,” Goud said. “Public art lifts the spirits, it manifests the ethos of the culture and it leaves a fingerprint on the souls who passed by. I’m just really blessed to be a part of that.”

The octopus art is just one of the latest pier improvements. Also unveiled at the evening ceremony on Tuesday, Aug. 25, was a water refill station on the pier, courtesy of donor Pat Blanford in honor of her late husband Chuck, said Lori Donchek, PierPride boardmember.

“He was passionate about the pier and making it an enjoyable experience for residents,” Donchek said.

Goud, an artist who has made her mark around town through the years with a vintage mural off Pico and the iconic Pedro’s Taco signs, was selected by a committee of about 30 people. One of the criteria for the project was that the art be an “Instagram moment.”

“The art is whimsical,” Donchek said. “It will cause people to stop and take a photo.”

Other improvements include new skylights in the restrooms and light fixtures.

The 1,200-foot-long pier was built in 1928 by the town’s founder, Ole Hanson. Rum smugglers who traveled from Mexico and Canada would wait until the dead of night before making their way to a trap door hidden beneath the pier.

The pier has been rebuilt twice: in 1939 when about half was washed away, and again in 1983 when 36 percent of the pier’s length was destroyed.

These days, anglers line the pier in hopes of a catch, strollers gather at sunset and patrons stop at the San Clemente Pier Grill & Tackle for hot dogs and burgers.

An estimated 2 million people visit each year.

“It has a deep sense of history and identity with three to four generations of visitors and residents,” Donchek said. “It’s just a very special place.”

The PierPride Foundation holds events each October, dubbed PierPride month, to raise funds for pier improvements. But with coronavirus concerns, this year’s event had to be adjusted.

Instead of having people line the pier and hold up their phones to light up the pier as they have in years past, the nonprofit hopes to upgrade the electrical system for a “Light the Pier” event on Oct. 22 that would feature a remote light-up celebration people can watch from a distance.

“That will allow for the pier to have holiday lights installed around the perimeter this holiday season,” Donchek said.

Donna Kalez, whose father Don started his fishing company at the pier decades ago, was impressed by the new art addition.

“It’s just amazing what they’ve accomplished,” said Kalez, who attended the unveiling. “Every year they do something wonderful.”

The kids passing by were mesmerized by the sight of an octopus spilling out of the door, Kalez said.

“It looks real,” she said. “It was a nice moment for San Clemente.”

That’s what Goud was going for — a whimsical children’s piece based on a sea creature she finds “intelligent, mystical and very fun.”

“I wanted to do something very vibrant,” she said. “My hope is to bring smiles to people’s faces.”



Source: Orange County Register

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