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.