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: Save Mt. Diablo

I come across a lot of great art when I’m wandering in Walnut Creek. This one hits close to home. There’s nothing necessarily startling about it; it’s just a beautiful painting of Mt. Diablo’s landscape, with a very special message attached to it.

If you can’t read what that says: “This art wrap installation is in honor of Save Mt. Diablo for the important work they do preserving our local treasure.”

That’s right – it’s a dedication to an organization that has been around for nearly 50 years, devoted to saving the unprotected parts of Mt. Diablo from development. So far, the organization has done a fantastic job of increasing protected lands in the parks, and will continue fighting to do so.

This artwork – on the utility box in front of Vineyard Vines (corner of Mt. Diablo Blvd. and N. Main St.) is a perfect tribute to thank them for their efforts. And it adds to the beautification of downtown Walnut Creek, especially this corner!

Art Town: Bullman With Bulldog

Well, this one kind of sprung up out of nowhere, huh? I love it, though! This piece on the corner of Mt. Diablo Blvd. and N. Main St. is just so unique, you can’t miss it – or you might, as it blends in with the crowds. This shot was taken late at night but look at the contrast of the day-time photo at the bottom of the blog.

The piece was donated by local developer Brian Hirahara and sculpted by Gerald Heffernon. It’s a life-size bronze statue of a half-man, half-bull dressed nicely and leaning against the pole on that street corner. His bulldog is on a leash, and there is unbelievable detail on the piece.

According to Heffernon, human figures depicted with animal heads is imagery deeply embedded in our psyches because we have a desire to acquire the power of other animals by getting inside their minds. If you think about it, even as far back as ancient Egypt and Greece there were minotaurs, hawk-headed humans, and more.

“A bullman is a hybrid of two animals,” Heffernon says. “A bulldog is all dog, but one bred to battle bulls. In this case, the bull(man) seems to control the bulldog, but those roles can reverse, as they can with humans and their dogs.”

The piece prompts us to consider which animal is in charge, as is often the case with dogs and their human owners. There is a triangle of competing wills. Heffernon, who hails from Winters, CA, calls himself a conceptual wildlife artist and wants his human/animal hybrid sculptures to be surreal, funny and thought-provoking.

Unsurprisingly, Hirahara also had a hand in approving the creepy downtown fountain with the head in it!

The piece definitely has mixed reviews – what do you think of it? Love or hate?

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Are Walnut Creek’s In-N-Out dreams dead?

According to ABC7, the new In-N-Out location Walnut Creekians have been salivating over might be in trouble.

Just TRY to say no to this picture…

Apparently, a community near the proposed site (N. Main St. at Second Ave.) of the new location is trying to stop the construction because of the expected long drive-thru line that will cause traffic and late night noise.

The city has not taken a stance yet, and the owner of the property already has it zoned for a restaurant, so it may very well still happen. Would In-N-Out have a restaurant without the drive-thru window? If so, how will In-N-Out feed all the folks who don’t want to leave their cars to eat their fast food?

Anyway, the local community rightly likes its quiet, peaceful street and think there is already a plethora of fast food restaurants nearby, making In-N-Out unnecessary.  My son will be bummed, I for one am indifferent.  They are not my favorite, the patty is too small…stay tuned for future blogs on our areas burger locals.

This would look great on N. Main St. Just saying.In all seriousness, it looks like the city will plan a few public hearings after they review the proposal again. It remains to be seen if the local community will have their way, or if residents of Walnut Creek will be able to save themselves 10 minutes of driving on 680 (in either direction…) for those juicy burgers.

For what it’s worth, the anti-In-N-Out petition on Change.org has about 10 times as many signatures as the pro-In-N-Out petition. At least our town gets involved.

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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