August 29 – October 15, 2006
The University Art Museum presents Fantasy Islands: Landscaping Long Beach's Oil Platforms, an exhibition exploring the design and landscaping of four oil-drilling platforms built between 1965 and 1968 in the outer harbor of Long Beach, California. Showcasing historic original drawings and period photographs of landscape architect Joseph Linesch (1924-1996) who envisioned the transformation of Long Beach into the “Riviera of the West.” The exhibition also includes contemporary color images by Los Angeles photographer Soo Kim.
In the 1960s, a consortium of oil companies––Texaco, Humble, Union, Mobil and Shell (T.H.U.M.S.) –– set about to create man-made drilling platforms to retrieve the oil from of one of the nation’s largest oil fields, the East Wilmington Reserve, extended over 6,500 acres under Long Beach. T.H.U.M.S. commissioned the local landscape-planning firm of Linesch & Reynolds to environmentally enhance their islands with architectural elements and plantings. What resulted was a camouflage that employed waterfalls, palm trees and shrubs set against abstract, brightly colored concrete walls and 180-foot tall towers–all dramatically lit at night. Linesch & Reynolds worked with sculptor Herbert J. Goldman and landscaper Morgan Evans to create a fantasy environment that would mask the working mechanical equipment of the oil platforms, and relate the islands visually to adjacent urban Long Beach.
Fantasy Islands: Landscaping Long Beach's Oil Platforms was organized by Kurt Helfrich, Curator, Architecture and Design Collection, University Art Museum, UC Santa Barbara.