Field of Poppies and California Gold by Christie Beniston
In developing the Foothill Gold Line Operations Campus located in the City of Monrovia, the Construction Authority decided to incorporate art and design into the maintenance and operations facility — a behind-the-scenes site usually camouflaged and hidden from view. When asked to create art for the 24-acre campus, Christie Beniston began her design process by researching the history of transportation in California. She locked onto the eighteenth-century Spanish explorers who sailed the coast of California and described the region as “a land of fire,” noting the deep orange-colored hillsides. Once on land, the explorers realized the source of the “fire” was the poppy, thus giving California its state flower and the nomenclature “The Golden State.”
Beniston used the California Poppy as her central image and inspiration and created artworks in two locations on the site. For the main building, the artist has taken the micro view of a cluster of golden flowers for a grand mural in the lobby. Using a grid system as a base structure, she has produced a large, colorful, graphic mosaic composed of hundreds of flowers comprised of 140,000 10mm glass tiles.
In contrast to the close detail of the lobby mural, the artist created a large-scale field of poppies within the fences lining the public plaza on the northwest corner of the campus.
Beniston, who likes a challenge, was delighted to design an artwork using a new material. The Field of Poppies fence was created with an architectural fabric that employs traditional lace weaving techniques into a material that is functional and practical for exterior fencing applications. The artwork allows visitors to Evergreen Plaza to enjoy views of the light rail facility and serves as a vibrant backdrop to this new community amenity.
“Training in communication design has had significant influence on my work as a fine artist working in the public space. For the viewing plaza and building at the Operations Campus, I recognized the importance of California history and its relationship to the site. Ultimately my hope is that my contribution is a visual representation of what is important to the broader community as well as the legacy of the city’s new facility.”
About the Artist
Christie Beniston is a public artist based in Solana Beach, California and has had a thriving art practice for over 25 years. Her public, residential, and commercial commissions are located throughout Southern California in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties. Her desire and technical ability to innovate with new materials and tackle unusual sites were essential components for the installation of the Field of Poppies and California Gold commissions at the Foothill Gold Line Operations Campus. Recent works by Beniston are permanently installed at the San Diego Airport Commuter Terminal, Huntington Valley Little League field in Huntington Beach, and the Glendale Adventist Hospital. She has also exhibited her work in museums and galleries across the country and has received numerous awards including an International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Design and Development Silver Award in the category of Renovation/Expansion of an Existing Project.