Visitors walk by “Pretty Boy,” a sculpture by David Buckingham made with welded recycled steel. (KEVIN CHANG, Daily Pilot / September 13, 2014)

Los Angeles artist Gerardo Hacer says public art changed his life.

When he saw the towering red curves of Alexander Calder’s “Four Arches” in downtown Los Angeles, it stuck with him.

“That’s the way I discovered sculpture and art,” said Hacer, whose own sculptures crafted from brightly colored metal are now on public display in Newport Beach.

For the next two years, one of his origami-inspired pieces will be on display in Civic Center Park.

Hacer is one of 10 artists whose sculptures were selected for the first exhibition at the park, which hosted a grand opening for the display Saturday afternoon.

The green, steel bear cubs in Hacer’s “Club Triptych” were the first stop on tours that set off throughout the day.

Visitors also wound past the blue tubing of Seattle artist Matt Babcock’s “Big Wet Dog” or the intricate stainless steel of Portland artist Ivan McLean’s “Sphere 112.”

Anyone who missed the opening can get their own tour by downloading the iOS or Android app MyNB.

The sculptures will remain in the park for two years, at which point they’ll be rotated out for other pieces.

These first 10 were selected by a jury of art professionals and members of the City Arts Commission that sorted through 260 submissions.

But that process wasn’t without its criticism. Some neighbors objected to the large, modern works.

“You can like it. You can love it. You can dislike it, but it has certainly started a conversation,” Newport Beach Mayor Rush Hill said of the selected pieces.

Already, the sculptures have served the City Council’s goal of drawing more people to use the park, according to Hill.

“It warms my heart to see this campus bustling with people,” he said.

Around the park, kids and parents were able to create their own art.

At stations set up by the Orange County Museum of Art, they made their own sculptures with clay or pipe cleaners.

Next to “Club Triptych,” they folded origami animals.

Hacer said he enjoys watching kids’ reaction to his art, but he also appreciated that they could explore the undulations of the grounds and organically explore on their own.

“You get the chance to walk and discover more art,” he said. “We need more places like this in L.A.”