Art Town: Wowhaus

This week, we’re going to The Orchards for our art! Husband and wife team Scott Constable and Ene Osteraas-Constable created three “Story Vanes” for The Orchards in 2016. They really catch the eye, and are interactive!

They used a process known as radial moiré, which means a fixed image appears when you rotate a disk, pierced with slits over a pattern. You can rotate the veins to make the disk move and the pattern change. It’s quite remarkable!

Of the three Vains, there is California Buttercup, Great Horned Owl (this one has a sound element to it!), and Ammonite. This Orchards area is actually a hotbed for unique Walnut Creek art. There will be more to come!

Art Town: Folded Square Alphabet G

Have you ever been walking near BART and noticed a few, well…strange structures? Some of the art across the way from the northernmost BART parking lot is made up of some intricate statues. One of my new favorites is called “Folded Square Alphabet G,” and upon close examination, I can see why.
The piece was created by Fletcher Benton in 1984, and is part of a larger series called “Folded Alphabet.” It’s described a geometric puzzle because they contain a letter which is either obvious or hidden. You’re supposed to walk around the sculpture – which is made of painted aluminum – to get the full experience.
According to Benton’s bio, he was born in Ohio and supported himself as a sign painter. He became fascinated with the alphabet and geometric forms created by letters. That led him to create the “Folded Alphabet” series, which intertwine letters within shapes. He perches metal plates atop each other and balances them precariously, which adds a whole new layer of awesome to the piece.
It’s a truly unique, timeless piece that has only gotten more impressive with age. Next time you’re wandering near Walnut Creek BART, keep an eye out for the folded “G,” and see if you can spot it!

Art Town: That Moment

I spotted this utility box art earlier in the year, and loved the little elephant artwork! It sits in front of KOJA on Locust and Olympic. The name of the artwork on it is “That Moment” and it was done by Netsanet Tesfay. I love the colors and the child-like drawing style.


If you look closely enough, you can see that the actual body of the elephant (as well as the other little designs along the bottom, like the butterfly) are made with intricate patterns that give off the single-color impression when you look at it as a whole. Another very cool piece in downtown Walnut Creek!

Art Town: Echo

If you’ve been wandering around downtown after a movie, or had a hankering for Chipotle, or really wanted to get a drink at The Cheesecake Factory, you’ve seen the lovely pair of statues on either side of Locust St. in Plaza Escuela. They tower above fountains or pedestals where pedestrians rest their feet. The artist, Yoshio Taylor, created these in 2002 out of bronze, and placed them on terra cotta bases.

 Look closely, and you’ll see a lot of history in these twin pieces. First, did you know that Walnut Creek’s first school once stood in this spot, hence the name of the plaza itself (“Escuela” = “school” in Spanish!)? The female figure is reading, and the male figure is holding several books. In another nod to Walnut Creek’s history, Taylor surrounds the feet of the figures with native plants that have disappeared from the area. If you look closely, you’ll see frogs, birds, foxes and more around the bases. The reason for the grape leaves is to celebrate Walnut Creek’s agricultural history; apparently we celebrated grapes in the Fall Festival long before we celebrated Walnuts!

Taylor says he created this with classical influences and wanted to give a proportional stance to his figures. The columns, in his description, give place, presence, and power to the figures. They serenely invoke a quiet restfulness. Taylor, who got an MFA from UC Berkeley and resides in Sacramento now, has given Walnut Creek’s downtown art scene one of its most treasured and aesthetically-pleasing works with Echo.

Art Town: AVE Apartments

New luxury condos and apartments are springing up all over our little town! One of the recent ones is the AVE Apartment complex across from Target. It is a really nice little apartment community that allows you to utilize their rooftop pool area, decks, rent bikes, and is even pet-friendly.

AVE Apartments definitely cost a lot to rent, as they are some of the newer, nicer apartments in Walnut Creek. However, you get what you pay for. They worked hard down to the last detail to make the complex livable and beautiful. One of my favorite aspects is, of course, the art!

On the doors surrounding the front and the pool deck, they’ve etched a bunch of trees that look kind of like shadows and give it a real natural feel. For being a huge complex cramped into a small space in a rapidly-growing town like Walnut Creek, I love what the tree art brings. Check out these pictures. I especially like the one with the sun coming through:

Art Town: Fish Benches

No, I’m not being koi, this piece of art is really titled Fish Benches! It’s located just downstream, er, across the street from the Walnut Creek BART station in Ygnacio Plaza. You can see them when you wander through the plaza at the corner of N. California Blvd. and Ygnacio Valley Rd. in downtown Walnut Creek.

When you’re trout and about in Walnut Creek, and you need to rest your legs a bit, you can always cross over from BART or Target to take a seat on these bronze benches designed by Judy Kensley McKie in 2003. They are surprisingly comfortable for being flat, metal benches, but you have to admire the artwork itself!

They truly look like fish swimming, and that must have been the goal from the start: to tuna public space into a relaxing retreat for pedestrians. I can’t say it’s the most impressive, attractive, or exciting piece of art in downtown Walnut Creek, but it deserves recognition nonetheless. Don’t flounder and go check it out!

Art Town: Uno Dos Tres

Here’s a fun “did you know!” You’ve seen that mural of three targets on the back of Target on the corner of Ygnacio Valley Blvd. and N. California Blvd., right? You can see it when you’re walking back towards downtown from the Walnut Creek BART station. Anyway, did you know…those aren’t actual targets?

That’s right, this mural, designed by Seattle-based Ann Gardner in 1991, was already created before she knew it was going on a Target. How ironic! She got the glass for the mosaic from Venice, and then supervised the construction of the project. She installed the artwork in Walnut Creek with mosaic fabricator Steve Miotto, who is known for his work in the New York subway system.

Gardner often uses circular motifs in her art, likes using mosaic because of the durability of glass. It’s her way of, as she says, “honoring an artistic tradition that dates back to the Byzantine era in Constantinople.” She also mentioned she likes to not overwhelm the available space, but to make it pop and give the viewer a good experience.

Now you know, next time you’re wandering around downtown in that general area, to take a closer look at the mosaic mural on the back of Target. It’s not an advertisement for the store – it’s just a funny coincidence and a really beautiful piece of art!

Art Town: Bolero

A recently-landscaped area on the corner of Ygnacio Valley Blvd. and N. Main St. in downtown Walnut Creek is the next subject of our Art Town monthly feature. Though the sculptures themselves may have stood out more before the remodel, the entire area looks a lot better now!

You may recognize the statue since it’s been there since 1988, but the whole corner is much more aesthetically-pleasing now. The flowers and the restructuring of the area make it something you want to stop and look at on the busy corner, rather than pass by. Scroll down for a few more pictures and a little background on the art itself!

The sculptor, Robert Holmes, was originally an engineer who designed and built homes before diving into art full-time in 1981. He works only with bronze, and has a studio in Sea Ranch with a foundry in Sebastopol. In this specific piece, Holmes wanted to distill the human form to essential elements, hence the faceless, dancing features.

Art Town: Cost Plus globe!

We have a pretty unique art piece for this week’s Art Town. Normally, we discuss paintings on electrical boxes, or statues that everyone has seen. But this time, we’re making you crane your necks to look up!

You’ve all been to Cost Plus World Market, which shares a block with the movie theater.  I’d always noticed the big, metal globe on top of the building, but I had never taken a really close look.  It may be a tie to their logo, not unlike the circles at the back of the Target building on the corner of Ygnacio and California.  For new business construction, the city requires some sort of art work to accompany our streets and I believe this is exactly that, yet ties nicely with the business.  I may be wrong and if anybody has some insights, please share as I did not find any notations about this piece.

When you get up on the parking deck on the roof, you can actually see it up close behind the gate they have there. It’s much more intricate and detailed than you realize from the ground, and it really is a beautiful, random piece of art. Take a look at this up-close picture here to see the detail:

It almost looks like a nest, or a cage, or what the Earth might look like if only rivers and faults were mapped on a globe. It is all wound together so randomly, but there’s an order to it, as well. Truly a fascinating piece of artwork that many people might not even notice when they’re walking around downtown or parking on the top lot!

Art Town: Figure (Get Set)

This utility box is on the corner of N. Main St. and Lincoln Ave. in downtown, and has been on display for a couple years now. It’s situated in front of Modern China, across from Opa, in a very heavily-trafficked part of downtown Walnut Creek. It first drew my eyes from its startlingly large human figure.

It depicts a woman in a red dress who seems to be admiring herself in the mirror. It kind of gives me “50’s movie starlet” vibes for some reason. The artist, Carla Gelbaum says she paints from her imagination using universal and whimsical themes. She says she likes to use the “infinite possibilities of life and the universe” to paint her pieces, and that she often uses vibrant, bold color themes.

 Those styles are readily apparent on this utility box, which also lists “Get Set” in tile at the bottom. This differentiates it from other “Get Set” pieces Gelbaum has done. All her work in that series is acrylic painting of females in red bathing suits who “look upon their world in a calm and reflective manner.” You can see more “Get Set” pieces here at Gelbaum’s website.

Gelbaum was raised in the Bay Area and has other pieces around the East Bay, including at John Muir in Walnut Creek. I really enjoy this utility box painting, as it gives me a calming, optimistic feeling for some reason. Have you seen it when you’re walking around downtown? If not, keep your eyes peeled!