Beginning in third grade I attended school in the Inland Empire, east of Orange County. There, the trucks are big, the weather is hot, and the air is dirty. In fact, the air gets so dirty some days kids are not allowed to play outside; recess and physical education are relocated to gyms and multi-purpose rooms. I cannot say I was ever disappointed about missing P.E. in junior high school, but the idea of needing protection from the air outside makes me sad.
After two years of substitute teaching in Orange County I cannot recall one day of house arrest caused by hazardous air. This fresher, cleaner atmosphere is further monitored, documented and even celebrated by Prana, a large, inflatable pterodactyl at the Huntington Beach Art Center. As part of the exhibition Land Sea Air, Prana is equipped with an electronic system that monitors the air outside, and an internal light that changes color with changes in the air quality: green is best, dark red is worst, and 4 hues in between. She was designed by students at Cypress College. On the day I saw Prana she was glowing green, the air was clean, and I was safe to wander down to the pier and breath deep.
Land Sea Air runs until September 6, and also includes a beautiful, sand installation by Robert Wysocki (Land), and an intriguing proximity-based sound piece by Peter Segerstrom (Sea).