I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up for a tour of the Wolfstein Sculpture Park at Scripps Memorial in La Jolla – a service offered by the Volunteer Program. A hospital in La Jolla isn’t the first place that springs to mind when you think of spending a few hours of your free time. But the park was intended to transform a traditionally sterile environment into a place where patients, their families and hospital staff can feel uplifted – and this definitely applies to visitors, too. This tour was anything but a standard visit to the hospital.
The unlikely placement of art around the Scripps Memorial campus was spearheaded by Ralyn and Nathan Wolfstein, along with artist Gerrit Greve, through the creation of Arts for Healing – an initiative that aims to promote the healing process and celebrate life’s special events. The Sculpture Park was established in 1998 and has grown over the years into an eclectic collection of classic, mixed-medium and abstract sculpture that takes you into a setting that feels more like a zen garden/art gallery than a hospital.
Our guide was Joyce Hyde, a volunteer at Scripps Hospital since 2004, whose experience and passion for the arts made the 90 minute tour enjoyable and interesting. She regaled us with the backstory and context of each piece, and gave the group enough information to process without filling our brains with stuff we’d forget in five minutes. Family Reflections (Madeline Wiener) was a stand-out piece for me. Joyce explained the long and arduous process that went into getting the heavy marble sculpture to Scripps (it started out as a 27,000 pound block) and how the artist invited students to join her as she finished it off behind the hospital. Another memorable piece was Surfboard Cedar Survivor (by Betsy Kopshina Schultz & Hans Tegebo), one of the few Urban Trees at the Sculpture Park (originally displayed at the Embarcadero), which survived the tragic Cedar Fire of 2003 that destroyed over 2,000 homes that year.
The placement and theme of each piece was something I found really interesting. There is work from local and international artists, focusing on ideas that transcend cultural and religious barriers – themes childhood memories, spending time with loved ones and the value of nature are a few that really stand out. All in all, it was a fantastic tour and something I’d recommend to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. I would like to thank Joyce and Jill Corrales (Manager of Scripps Volunteer Services) for a great morning.
The Docent led tours of the Sculpture Gardens happen once a month. Group tours are also available by request – you’ll find the contact information here at Scripps website.