‘Sunset Seat’ unveiled in Del Mar near Torrey Pines State Beach


City officials and community members celebrated Del Mar’s newest public art piece during a ribbon-cutting ceremony April 28 at Anderson Canyon just north of Torrey Pines State Beach.

Award-winning woodworking artist Tim Richards recently transformed a dead Torrey pine into a lively piece of public art at the bluffs along Camino del Mar.

“It really is something that is uniquely Del Mar,” said Councilman Terry Sinnott, who was joined by Mayor Al Corti and Deputy Mayor Sherryl Parks at the ceremony. “We’re hoping that people in the future will celebrate and enjoy this location.”

The stump is now “Sunset Seat,” a wooden bench where people can sit and look at the scenic surroundings. Attached is a carved red-tailed hawk — the official bird of Torrey Pines Reserve.

The seat also has a plaque in recognition of the designer and carver.

“I think it turned out really well,” said Richards, an Encinitas resident, in an earlier interview. “I enjoyed the whole creative process.”

In January, Del Mar resident David Arnold contacted Richards about carving the Torrey pine. The city was cutting down the tree because bark beetles had damaged it.

Arnold asked the crew to stop working for an hour, giving him time to make a few phone calls. He contacted city staff and received support to turn the stump into art.

An active member of the community, Arnold has served on Del Mar’s Design Review Board and helped design the city logo about five years ago. A longtime graphic designer and illustrator, he presented two clay models to the Parks and Recreation Committee, which unanimously selected one of the models Jan. 14.

Because the initial design resembled steps, however, city staff had concerns that the sculpture would encourage climbing and be a liability. So Arnold revised the design and turned the stump into a seat.

The Del Mar City Council unanimously approved the public art piece Feb. 2.

“When I heard it was going away, I thought it was a big loss to the community,” said Corti, who used to live on the cliff overlooking the tree, which his children used to climb. “David had the vision to figure out how to save it and keep it as a memento.”

After receiving approval from the city, Richards went to work on Feb. 17. He completed the piece March 6.

To prevent other trees from being damaged by beetles in the future, the city’s Public Works department recently partnered with the Torrey Pines State Reserve to expand the park’s Bark Beetle Trapping Program into Del Mar.

The first cluster of traps was installed in March in Anderson Canyon, also known as Del Mar Canyon, and instantly began trapping beetles. The funnel traps release a specific pheromone to lure the targeted bark beetle species, explained Joe Bride, the city’s deputy public works director.

“We’re going to prevent these trees from being killed in the future,” Bride said. “We’ve had a lot of success so far.”