Newest public art installation “Changing Station” inspires viewers to “Be a hero any way you can”

Story by DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

On one side of the Forest Avenue art installation “Changing Station” by local Artist Robert Holton is a list of inspirational quotes, one being, “There is a Superhero in all of us, we need the courage to put on the cape.”

Newest public Holton

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Artist Robert Holton 

Holton says, “I pitched this idea to the Arts Commission because of the connection of the phone booth and Superman, that’s where he changed and emerged as a superhero. I applied to the Arts Commission two years ago, and I came in third out of 20. So this year, I pitched it again. The sayings on the side are positive affirmations. There is so much insecurity and drama in town, this is an inspiration that each of us can be a hero in the smallest of ways.”

Newest public quotes

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Inspirational quotes

Holton has owned his sign business, One Day Signs, Inc. for over 20 years. He has exhibited for five years at the Sawdust Festival – Drizzle Art by Robert Holton depicts pop culture icons that are digitally printed onto stretched canvas, then hand-painted using Robert’s “drizzle” technique. The final paintings are bright, colorful, fun, and often very meaningful to viewers who find their own unique links to the friendly imagery.

Newest public dog

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Robert with his dog dressed as a superhero, Heidi Miller, and Robert’s wife Marita

Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Manager Siân Poeschl says, “It is important to have a diversity in the temporary art installation experience, both in content and duration and the combination of national and local artists. It is this diversity and opportunity that brings an energy and uniqueness to the experience of public art, and just for a fleeting moment you get to enjoy it, before it is gone. Robert Holton’s proposal was one of 25 submitted designs and I am excited for him to have had this opportunity to participate in his own community.”

Newest public Whalen

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Mayor Bob Whalen and Robert Holton 

In attendance for the dedication of the installation, Lorraine, who is visiting from London where phone booths are a staple, says, “The use of British phone booths with the comic superheroes is amazing, a good juxtaposition.”

Super Eddy, owner of Melrose Place just up from the phone booth, said the installation is “powerfully endowed.”

With a crowd of enthusiastic onlookers in attendance, Arts Commission Chair Michael Ervin dedicated the booth to the beauty of superheroes.

Newest public Heidi

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Heidi Miller, a true Wonder Woman 

Dressed as Wonder Woman, Heidi Miller, owner of Tight Assets, said, “I think it’s all about superheroes, but all of us are heroes in our own way. We forget that sometimes. This installation reminds us that we are.” Spoken as a true hero who donated one of her kidneys last year to save a life. 

In congratulating Holton on this vision of the phone booth, Mayor Bob Whalen said, “This is the first local artist selected. Holton sells at Sawdust. It’s great to have a local artist represented. Including this one, there are 18-20 temporary installations. The Arts Commission is on a roll.”

Newest public food

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Reception courtesy of Ashley Johnson of Visit Laguna Beach

In response to being honored, Holton said, “Thanks to the City and Arts Commission for choosing me. I moved here years ago, and when I would drive by the booth, I pictured Superman changing and then flying out. Although I’ve come from the sign making background, I’ve never made a fist like this before. It represents superheroes flying out of roof. It’s especially important in this time of negativity. We all need to be kinder or be a hero, even in a small way. My wife Marita says, ‘be a hero in any way you can.’”

So, hopefully, when passing the phone booth, we will all be inspired to “put on the cape” and be a hero in some modest way.

Courtesy of President & CEO of Visit Laguna Beach Ashley Johnson, following the dedication, a reception was held in the Visitors Center.