Art Town: City Hall

I saw this untitled sculpture from 1962 in Walnut Creek City Hall recently and thought it was beautiful! Check it out:

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It was created by Stephen De Staebler, a nationally recognized sculptor from the Bay Area, whose work is based on the expressive potential of the human figure. Clearly, that theme is present in this piece. De Staebler learned to exploit the inherent tendencies of clay as a student under Peter Voulkos in the early 60’s.

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De Staebler worked in clay, but also is well-known for his work with bronze. His quote on the public art plaque is very interesting: “We are all wounded survivors, alive, but devastated selves, fragmented, isolated – the condition of modern man. Art tries to restructure reality so that we can live with the suffering.”

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Even though this structure is indoors and not likely to be seen by as many people in Walnut Creek, try to remember to stop and check it out next time you’re near City Hall!

Art Town: The Reader

I love this utility box art on Locust St. and Cypress St. by Ruth Kolman Brophy. She is an Austrian artist living in the Bay Area. As you can clearly see by this beautiful mural, she is very influenced by working with bold colors. What a great piece!

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Art Town: Laws of Nature

One of my favorite utility box art projects is on the corner of Cypress and N. Main St. in downtown Walnut Creek near Bonanza; it’s called “Laws of Nature,” and was done by Netsanet Tesfay.

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Information on the artist and the piece are scarce, but I love the childish, cartoonish lion overlapping with a passage from C.S. Lewis’ collection of signature spiritual classics.

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Art Town: Tree Art!

You may not always notice some of the public art in Walnut Creek, especially when it blends in with your surroundings, or is tucked away on a less heavily-walked part of downtown. The latter was true for me, until I stumbled upon a really cool tree across from the creek next to Maria Maria.

Check out the creativity that went into creating this little scene, and allowing a nice place to sit down. I couldn’t find any title or artist information, but this piece is awesome! I especially love the quotes on the bench!

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Art Town: I’m Your Puppet

Walnut Creek has been doing a really cool utility box painting project for a few years, and they’ve recently changed some of their art for 2017. You can see more information on the program and recent additions here, but we’ll be including some in Art Town moving forward.

This one is called “I’m Your Puppet” by Jennifer Bain and covers the utility box on the corner of Newell and Main. Check it out!
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Art Town: Wings

fullsizerender-6The other day, I was grabbing lunch at Vitality Bowl in downtown Walnut Creek when I thought I need to look for another piece of art for my blog.  I looked up and noticed – for the first time ever – a cool sculpture across the street by the Lesher Center.

It’s funny how that happens! I’ve lived here for years, and probably walked that sidewalk a hundred times, and only now noticed it!  Art is all over Walnut Creek, you just have to look and notice.

The sculpture is called “Wings” and was built in 1986 by Walnut Creek resident Dan Dykes. He grew up on a small Oregon farm on the outskirts of the Siletz Indian Reservation, where his early exposure to natural forms in that rugged environment continues to influence his abstract work.
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To me, the sculpture looks like an angel from certain angles, with its wings spread out behind it. Dykes intended for there to be hints of simple birds, plants and trees in the sculpture, and for the durable bronze material to change with weather over the years, as well as with light patterns to reveal tiny, purposeful markings.

 

 


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Art Town: Lost in the Mail

img_9051A fixture of the downtown Walnut Creek art scene since 1985, Jacques Overhoff’s “Lost in the Mail” sits on the corner of Civic and Main, across the way from the police station.

If you’ve ever grabbed a coffee at La Scala or strolled from Stadium Pub to Dan’s on a weekend night, you’ve passed this ceramic sculpture.

Overhoff, a Dutch artist, named this piece after the plans to assemble it literally got lost in the mail.

The design is supposed to be texture-focused and allow for softening and hardening of the features depending on the angle of the sun.

According to the Walnut Creek Arts Commissioner, some people believe the sculpture looks like a pizza with two slices taken out of it. I personally see some sort of decaying sun dial, but to each his or her own!

Art Town: The Nordstrom fish!

img_9064Have you ever been wandering downtown by Broadway Plaza and turned the corner around Nordstrom and ended up staring into the open mouth of a big, golden fish statue? It startled me the first time I saw it.

Of all the strange art in Walnut Creek, this is a strong contender for weirdest of them all.

The fish, which is actually entitled “Bronze Carp” is the brainchild of the late Luciano Tempo, a Venetian-born artist who specialized in classically-hand carved stone planters, tables, and statues.

If my research is correct, Tempo also has a bronze alligator and frog somewhere in Walnut Creek. I haven’t seen those, but they are said to be placed around Broadway Plaza in a similar setting to the Bronze Carp.

Though the fish isn’t the prettiest to look at, it’s fascinatingly strange and adds a little bit of spice to our downtown art scene. It seems Walnut Creek isn’t shy about throwing random artwork together, huh?

 

Art Town: Dueling Eggs

Right across the street from my office on Riviera Ave., there is a unique sculpture (that doubles as a PokeStop, for those of you still hunting…) that I’ve dubbed “Dueling Eggs.” As you can see, it looks like two hollow, silver eggs that rotate and spin in the wind.

I couldn’t find any information on an official title or backstory, but it’s pretty fascinating to watch on gusty days. If you’re impatient, you can also spin it yourself. Add it to the list of interesting artwork dotting Walnut Creek these days!

Oh, for what it’s worth – the name of the PokeStop on Pokemon Go is “Two Egg Omelet,” but I like our name better…

 

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The story behind Civic Park’s “Hand of Peace”

FullSizeRender (4)We continue our tour of Walnut Creek’s public art scene with one of the more recognizable sculptures in the city: “Hand of Peace,” located just outside the library in Civic Park. The aptly-named sculpture is a monument to peace by Italian-born artist Beniamino Bufano, who passed away in 1970.

Legend has it that Bufano cut off his trigger finger and sent it to President Woodrow Wilson to protest World War I. He was a peace activist who taught at the San Francisco Institute of Art, UC Berkeley and Oakland’s California College of Arts and Crafts, according to a 2012 San Jose Mercury News story. Bufano has other prominent pieces in the Bay Area, including a sculpture in Chinatown, one at Mondavi Vineyards in Napa, and one at Lake Merced.

According to the San Jose Mercury News article, Bufano originally created the “Hand of Peace” for the San Francisco Arts Commission, but when the piece was put up for sale, developer Bill Swigert paid $50,000 to place the sculpture in Walnut Creek, outbidding Fox Plaza and Ghirardelli Square.

The sculpture sat in an office park in Walnut Creek from 1967 to 2009, when it was taken down for restoration. Now, it’s up for display for many years to come in Civic Park. The sculpture weighs nearly 5 tons, stands 30 feet tall, and is made of copper, mosaic and stained glass.

Oh, and it’s a PokeStop, by the way…