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Laguna Beach

 Volume 13, Issue 37  |  May 7, 2021

“Art in Public Places” – Music of the Spheres


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

This is the eighth 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.

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.

Music of the Spheres by artist Nancy Mooslin was installed in 1994 as part of Art in Public Places and was funded by the City of Laguna Beach. 

The piece was dedicated on Saturday, October 1, 1994, by then Mayor Ann Christoph. 

Art in midrange

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“Music of the Spheres” was installed in October 1994

Music of the Spheres consists of 12 vertical painted steel posts of varying heights with chimes measuring 22’ x 120’ x 8’. The original cost was $20,000. In 2010, it was restored – by replacing the connection joints, hoops, and chimes – at a cost of $20,000.

According to Mooslin, the group of arcs represent one of the twelve major triads and included participatory sounds element of pitched chimes. This piece is named for an ancient theory, confirmed by 17th century astronomer Johannes Kepler, that planetary motion produces the same numerical ratios found in musical harmonies. The sculptures contain 12 colors and 12 tones and represent the 12 major triads, the rotating earth, the 12 x 2 hours of the day, the rising and setting sun, the phases of the moon, and the harmony of the seascape.

In a letter to the Arts Commission on September 30, 1993, Nancy Mooslin said, “The piece relates to the rising and setting of the sun, the turning of the earth on its axis, the phases of the moon, the harmony and beauty of the landscape.” 

Art in closeup

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This piece is named for an ancient theory, confirmed by 17th century astronomer Johannes Kepler, that planetary motion produces the same

numerical ratios found in musical harmonies

Mooslin describes her work as an interdisciplinary investigation of musical concepts and theories, the relationship between color, form, texture, proportion and pitch, harmony, timbre, and rhythm. The content of the work also includes references to infinite cycles of time and planetary motion and the ultimate interconnection of all our perceptions. 

“I believe this relationship is more than a subjective and emotional one, it is a logical and natural linking of two measurable phenomena,” she says. “The synesthetic experience speaks to the infinite and universal nature and language of color, music and the measurement, and of the possibility of using this language to find and communicate those qualities which bring people and ideas together and give us a glimpse of a larger order of which we all take part.” 

Art in distance

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When the wind blows, the windchimes on each of the moon phases start to ring

For many years, Mooslin has been active in the public art arena, completing projects for the cities of Anaheim, Escondido, Sunnyvale, West Hollywood, Ventura, Whittier, Palm Desert, Pasadena, and Reno, Nev.

Mooslin’s other Laguna Beach exhibitions have included 3D GOES 2D, works by artists in the City’s Public Art Collection at City Hall Art Gallery, and The Art of the Violin, Laguna Beach Music Festival Laguna Beach in 2011. In 1987, her Sound and Sculpture installation was featured at Laguna Art Museum.

From 1985-1990, Mooslin was an art instructor at The Art Institute of Laguna and from 1989-1990, she served as Gallery Director at that site. 

Fred Lang Park is located at 21540 Wesley Dr. 

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, Sara Hall, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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