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: 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!

Art Town: New-look California Plaza

If you’ve ever hopped on BART in downtown Walnut Creek, you’ve probably seen the towering, 10-story office buildings just across the street from the North parking lot (if the train was headed towards the Pleasant Hill station). It has recently gotten a makeover, including state-of-the-art conference facilities, residential units and an outdoor area with bocce ball courts.

Also part of the makeover is a brilliant art installation, which paints a beautiful picture of Mt. Diablo across multiple fans against a wall. I call them “fans,” though I’m not sure exactly what the structure is, what kinds of materials were used, or who created it! Information is sparse.

What I do know, though, is this is an amazing upgrade to a space that was very 1970s outdated. I’m excited to see what other changes they will add to the building to spruce up the Walnut Creek BART area. It seems like good timing, with all the changes going on around and in the Bart area that destined to become a little village.  Just on Riviera the back road to WC Bart and where my office is located, are 3 new condo complexes being built (a future blog), not to mention the large apartment complex across from Bart on Ygnacio.

SaveSave

Art Town: Car Mural

Just outside of Anthropologie in downtown Walnut Creek, there’s this really cool mural of a couple and their car. There’s a huge American flag waving in the background. I don’t know exactly where it came from, what it signifies, or why it’s placed there. But for some reason I really like it!

Maybe it’s just because it’s “classic” American. It reminds me of a scene from The Great Gatsby, where the lavish, wealthy crowd would gather for parties with fine cocktails. I don’t know if that’s what Anthropologie is going for here, but the sheer size of the mural itself makes it interesting to me!

Art Town: Water Light Plaza

As Walnut Creek continues to shove colorful apartment complexes into every available corner of commercial real estate left, we find ourselves more and more populated in this little town. However, with each new complex comes a new work of art.

As you can see in the picture above, this newest piece is attached to the back of a public parklet, called Water Light Public Plaza on Locust. The glass and water feature is a cool look, and accents well with the area itself. The entire little plaza is located in a courtyard as part of the new Lyric developments across from MoMo’s.

You can’t beat the location of these apartments or the Water Light plaza itself. I appreciate that it’s a cool little place to hang out when you’re wandering downtown and it’s too crowded to move or you just need a place to rest your legs. If you pick up to-go food, it might also be a good spot to plop down for a bite – think Vitality Bowl or the New Poke restaurant that just opened.

Also, you can’t deny how eye-catching the artwork itself is! The colorful mosaic pattern set over the black is really attractive, and the water feature at the bottom is unique. Just another great piece to add to the downtown Walnut Creek collection!