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Is It An Art Installation? Is It A Community Garden? New Space On South Coast Mixes Both Ideas

A new project by a Ventura County artist has transformed a vacant lot into something that's part art and part community garden.

A vacant lot next to the Museum of Ventura County has been transformed into a unique garden.

It was a vacant lot in downtown Ventura for decades. The 20,000 square foot chunk of property behind the Museum of Ventura County was filled with weeds and piles of rocks. But in the last few months, it’s been transformed into a space which is part art installation, and part sustainable garden.

People passing by are stunned at the scene, which features some brick cone-like sculptures, some giant metal teepees, and a garden area.

The project is called “Echoes Of A Recent Past.” It's the creation of Ventura artist Paul Lindhard. Many of the elements come from rocks which were part of a historic wall in the city, as well as reclaimed materials from a construction site across the street from the lot.

Denise Sindelar is Deputy Director of the Museum of Ventura County. She says Lindhard had been eyeing the bricks, and the lot, and came to the museum with an idea on how to turn the eyesore into something unique.

"Paul Lindhard, who runs Art City Studios for over 35 years, has been looking for this site for quite a while," said Sindelar. "He just saw this blighted sight, weed, piles of dirt, piles of stones. He envisioned some type of community garden."

The artist says the idea he came up with included turning the historic stones into three giant planters. Then, he took some bricks and sheet metal from the old buildings being torn down across the street, and turned them into sculptures.

There’s also an on-site composting area, and a newly planted oak grove. The grove is dedicated to his late wife.

“Echos of A Recent Past” is intended to be viewed from the street, because it's enclosed by a fence. But, it will be open for people to get a closeup view during special events, like its debut in a free opening reception at 5 p.m. this Wednesday.

And, the sculpture garden takes on a special look at night, with solar lighting highlighting the unique works. While the installation isn’t a permanent project, it’s expected to stay in place until the museum needs the space for expansion, which could be years down the road.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.