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Mall-Based Artwork To Reopen To Public After Controversy

The management of the Westfield Plaza Camino Real mall in Carlsbad has agreed to let an art installation reopen to the public.

The artwork, titled “Winter Wonderland” has been closed since Black Friday due to concerns about the look of the installation and performances taking place within it.

“Winter Wonderland,” located in a vacant storefront inside the mall, is the creation of artist Armando de la Torre. The project is a month-long residency through the Oceanside Museum of Art (OMA).

De la Torre’s installation uses recycled materials, including trash scavenged from around the mall. The space’s unfinished, edgy look did not square with the expectations mall management had for the art project, according to Tara Smith, chief curator at OMA.

De la Torre enlisted other artists to perform in the space throughout the month of December, including a musical performance on Black Friday that led to the artwork’s closure. A group of teachers/professors from Palomar College dressed up like a heavy metal band and read sales copy from store flyers, yelling "Black Friday" as part of the chorus.

The decision to reopen the artwork was made Friday afternoon during a meeting between de la Torre, museum representatives and mall management. Smith, who was present, said mall management was more comfortable with the artwork after an in-depth discussion about the content and scope of the project.

“I think they expected a work that was more object-based and static,” Smith said. She said once she framed “Winter Wonderland” as a community center that would be interactive (with workshops and performances) and always evolving, they reached an understanding.

The look of the work was also more complete, after a crew of artists and museum workers stayed up late Thursday adding finishing touches like OMA’s logo and the artwork’s title on the entrance.

Upcoming "Winter Wonderland" performances can be found here.

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