ECHO PARK — It has been 80 years since the Lady of the Lake, an Art Deco-style statue created by Ada Mae Sharpless, made its debut at Echo Park Lake. The 14-foot-high cast stone figure has been photographed countless times and was restored and returned to its original spot in 2013 at the tip of a peninsula that juts into the lake. But not everyone has been impressed with the goddess-like figure.
Shortly after the statue was completed in the mid 1930s, Arthur Millier, the L.A. Times art critic at the time, expressed disappointment with the piece, officially known as Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles (Queen of the Angels). Sharpless, who worked on the statue in a studio in Silver Lake, did not take the criticism well. A story on the Lady of the Lake in HistoricEchoPark.org describes the exchange between critic and artist:
Los Angeles Times art critic Arthur Millier reviewed the Lady of the Lake when the statue [most likely a small replica] was the centerpiece of a small exhibit at the Art Salon at the Ebell Club in 1935. Millier wrote, “It is not her happiest work. Simplicity on such a scale demands a compensating subtlety which is absent.”
In response, the Los Angeles Times quoted Sharpless in a letter stating that the Lady of the Lake was “one of the best pieces of work I have done so far…and several people of the most sophisticated artistic taste in the city [agree]. Forget what is being represented—this has nothing to do with whether the sculpture is good or not.”
Despite Millier criticism , the Lady of the Lake has remained a beloved piece of Echo Park history.
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