A new mural downtown highlighting diversity

I was stunned by a new mural on the side of Cheap Pete’s downtown the other day, while walking over to La Scala for a coffee. I had to stop and take a few pictures! Lucky for us, one of the brains behind the wonderful artwork provided some insight about the inspiration:

Sage at Local Edition Creative said he conceived the mural concept, which was pained by the agency’s lead artist, David “Hyde” Cho. Sage lives in Walnut Creek and says he wanted to add some more contemporary art that also incorporated something representing a different culture, as a way of indicating that Walnut Creek has a growing, diverse population.

He says: “I chose a Japanese theme for the serenity and beauty that I believed would be well received, as well as playing off the Geishas’ masks in the time of COVID. The statement is the we all wear different masks in our lives and COVID is a physical manifestation of this. The title is “jiko-jitsugen,” and is Japenese for “self-realization.” The basis for the concept of the mural’s meaning was jiko-jitsugen – or, that each person has three faces: one they show to the world, one they show to their family, and one they show to no one.”

How cool is that? Thank you so much to Sage and Local Edition for reaching out to me and providing the extra information and for blessing that blank wall downtown with amazing artwork that we can all enjoy! What a great message! Local Edition also created a small mural next to Mel’s downtown, which I will share on a later blog.

According to the Local Edition website, this mural came about through the Walnut Creek REBOUND program that fast-tracked existing city money to help small businesses with parklets, new art installations, and other crucial things to keep people engaged during the hardships of COVID-19. Now that we are back to partially being open, I hope those reading this will take some time to go downtown, support our local business’ and take a walk past the mural, or maybe on your way to the farmers market on Sunday!

Duncan Arcade Murals!

Walnut Creek has one of the most amazing ongoing public art projects a city can have and another one has just been completed. Strolling through Duncan Arcade downtown (the covered passageway that connects Main to Locust by the Amplify Barber Shop), I was thrilled to see some beautiful murals on the walls!

From: Bedford Gallery

Bay Area-based artists Velia De Iuliis, Cannon Dill, Casey Gray, Sirron Norris, and Ricky Watts are responsible for the art and did so in partnership with Walnut Creek Public Art. The murals were described by Bedford Gallery as “dynamic and colorful,” and that description really nails it.

As for the future, the city plans to rotate murals regularly, to give new artists a chance to participate in the project. For now, I’d highly recommend making a detour next time you’re wandering downtown to see these murals.

This visually improved the walkthrough from Main to Locust! Check out the shops along the way, Norf London always has fun items, and now there is a photography venue focusing on baby pictures.

Downtown Walnut Creek scavenger hunt!

How cool is this idea? There’s a Public Art Scavenger Hunt in downtown Walnut Creek now, where you can start at Civic Park and finish at Lesher Center for the Arts. It’s an easy, fun course that is only about a mile in total, and allows you to see a lot of the great local art that I like to feature on this blog (check out my Art Town blogs for more)!

You can find all the art by reading clues, and all of it is outside. What a perfect activity to do to get outside, social distance, get some exercise, and learn a little bit about our town’s art scene. Starting this month, and going until February, you can also enter to win a monthly drawing when you finish the scavenger hunt – an iPad will be given to a winner in February!

If you do the scavenger hunt, make sure to call the numbers on the plaques to hear more about the artwork you’re looking at. Also, if you take pictures along the way, make sure to use hashtags on social media of #walnutcreekpublicart, #walnutcreektogether, and #walnutcreekcreatestogether.

I did this last weekend with my friend Rebecca, it was during our recent heat wave, but we stayed masked stopped at Starbucks for a cool drink and had a nice day catching up. I’ve seen and blogged about most of the local, public artwork at this point (see some of my favorites in the slideshow above), but it’s one of the great joys of living in Walnut Creek – getting to see art all over the place, and watching as certain areas transform because of those works!

We ended our scavenger hunt with pictures at the new “Walnut Creek Together” mural by artist Ally McKay is on Cypress Street which is a symbol of Walnut Creek emerging from the aftermath of the pandemic into a new and changed world. It makes for a fun photo opportunity and post to social media.

Let me know if you do the scavenger hunt or find the Walnut Creek Together mural. Get out there and enjoy all that beautiful Walnut Creek has to offer us!

A quick visit to John Muir

A couple of weeks ago, I went to take a run in my neighborhood. I got about 10 yards from my house running with my sunglasses on, before I stepped into a small hole I hadn’t seen, caught the edge with my toe, and fell flat on my face. Not my proudest moment!

Anyway, after a zoom video with my doctor, she recommended an X-Ray, so off to John Muir I went. It wasn’t really a pleasant reason for meandering around the John Muir Hospital campus, but I ended up catching some pretty cool art.

I love this blue, meandering line of glass depicting a river that starts at the waterfall rock. When I first started writing this blog, I did a quick picture to ask if people could guess where it is, but decided it was better to go more in-depth. It really is a peaceful place to sit and take a lunch or a reprieve from a sick or dying family member’s situation.

The hospital’s namesake, John Muir, also has a statue in the roundabout of the campus. I took a few shots of that as well! Visits to the hospital aren’t really something people look forward to, but props to John Muir for decking out the area with some serene artwork to make it a better experience!

Art Town: Re-visiting the “Folded G”

A while back, I shared an Art Town blog about the deconstructed “letter G” statue near the BART station. I had a little bit of information (included in that link) about the creator of the sculpture, but I received a comment on the blog shortly after posting regarding the artist and the piece!

It came from a reader named Rob, who wrote: “This sculpture is painted aluminum. A few years ago, it was painted a steel grey. It’s a deconstructed letter G, from the alphabet.” He also included the artist information (Fletcher Benton), date of creation (1984), and more.

So, I reached out to Rob via email and asked how he knew so much about the piece that I couldn’t find a lot of information on! He wrote back with an interesting story and connection: not only was he an artist himself, but Benton, the artist of the piece in question, was his sculpture teacher in college!

Small world, huh? It turns out that Rob works at SFMOMA and had some information on another piece in the area I was curious about. We’ll save that piece for another Art Town post, but thought you’d enjoy revisiting this one and hearing that story!

Art Town: Unknown Sculpture

This cool sculpture is at the roundabout on Pleasant Hill Rd. and Newell. I hadn’t noticed it before, but it’s pretty interesting! I like how the artist made the towering cubes curve an bend like that. Hopefully we keep our eyes on the road while driving the roundabout, instead of on the art!

On View at the Bedford Gallery: The Great Wave

I love venturing out to our little downtown art gallery and seeing the new exhibits every couple of months. The current one on view is titled The Great Wave, and it is all contemporary ocean-themed art. Much of it is also climate change-related, created out of ocean plastics and debris.

Here are some photos from the exhibit:

Two of my favorites were the woman crouching (see above), as that was created all out of plastic found in the ocean. The picture above that shows a bunch of small Buddha heads – the artist did a project where he buried those heads in the sand at beaches and let the natural erosion of the waves unveil them.

The cost to get in is $5 adult tickets, $3 youth (13-17) tickets, and FREE tickets for those 12 and under. The first Tuesday of every month is free and they also coordinate some sort of art work for kids on that free Tuesday. I love that we have such a great arts community and to quote Oscar Wilde: Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.

The exhibit was inspired by Katsushika Hokusai’s “The Great Wave,” which is recognized across cultures as a symbol of the unpredictable power of the ocean.

The Great Wave exhibit at Bedford will be there through March 22. Be sure to check it out before then!

Art Town: Broadway Plaza fountains

There are tons of new pieces of art popping up around Walnut Creek all the time. Thank goodness, otherwise we’d run out of content for this monthly feature on the blog! In all seriousness, it’s sometimes fun to look back and remember art that has been around town for a lot longer than most.

Take, for example, the fountains at Broadway Plaza. The one above is a lionhead statue with a scaly column and small streams pouring into the base. It’s always been a favorite of mine as you stroll through the shops and just outside of Nordstroms and was kept during the complete revamp of the Plaza!


Similarly, this large, round fountain has seemingly adorned Broadway Plaza (across the street from the first one, basically!) through thick and then, renovations and all. I’m sure every resident of Walnut Creek has sat on those steps, or thrown a penny into the water at some point.

I remember when my son Jackson was at a young age, always running around (“Action Jackson,” we called him) and we were standing by the fountain. Next thing I know, Jackson was in the fountain and a very tall man was pulling him out. My husband at the time said, “Do you know who that was? It was Chris Mullin!” (when he was GM of the Warriors – such an interesting memory of the fountain)

So it is nice to see these timeless fountains still churning away and making our little town a beautiful sight to see (and in my case a fun memory!). And yes, Jackson was okay. He was playing in the fountain the minute I turned my back!

Art Town: Civic Park Fossil

I’ve seen this little “fossil” artwork on the side of the ceramics building in Civic Park a few times before, but I still don’t know much about it! I think it looks cool, especially given its placement on that building in particular. Does anyone know anything about it? Send me a message!

Art Town: Lululemon Tree!

Sometimes, we can find some of the best art in the most random places in town. For instance, did I expect to see a really cool piece while wandering past Lululemon of all places? Definitely not. But here we are!

The store has a really interesting matted tree on its entrance, that looks sort of like a shadow and sort of like a permanent installation. Obviously it is there to stay, but it still kind of sneaks up on you until you pull back and look at it! The city of Walnut Creek is big on Art and require developers to have some sort of art at any new building project.

I have to say, a storefront like this is much more appealing to me than just a regular one with a bunch of signage and branding. What appeals to me most is it is unexpected, but blends in well.

Have you noticed any other uses of this style in downtown or around Walnut Creek? Send me pictures! I might feature it on my next Art Town blog! One that comes to mind is a past blog in front of the building across from Target – the trees on the front of the building look like shadows, but it is really hard to tell that is actually a piece of art.