There are few things that I love more than a giant cement sea monster (those few things include giant cement dinosaurs, giant plaster donuts, and that’s about it). And that is why I made the pilgrimage to San Gabriel this weekend, to Vincent Lugo Park, home of La Laguna de San Gabriel, better known as the Monster Park. Metblogs covered the Monster Park a few years ago, when it was at risk of demolition, but it’s still standing, in no small part due to the fantastic work of the Friends of La Laguna, who were recently recognized by the LA Conservancy for their preservation efforts. And god bless the Friends of La Laguna, because this place is basically amazing, and every child deserves the chance to play on a giant cement octopus. The Monster Park is such a wonderful place – it’s such a departure from the sterile, unimaginative playground designs that you see everywhere. I think that everyone should do themselves a favor and find a small child to take to La Laguna (please ask the small child’s parents for permission first).
I also love this park because of its wacky, mid-century aesthetic. The colors, the curving lines of the statues, and the unselfconscious whimiscalness remind me of the kind of mid-to-late-sixties animation you’d see in psychedelic movies like Yellow Submarine. The park is the work of Mexican-American artist Benjamin Dominguez, who built several parks in and around California in the 1950s and 1960s. The Monster Park is his last work, completed as he was turning 70, and I think that it stands as a testament that public art can be beautiful, and fun, and interactive. And really, really awesome.