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: 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.

“Sure Enough” – new art installation in Civic Park!

You may remember when I posted my most recent Event Round-Up. It featured an artist named Patrick Dougherty who was putting up a massive art installation in Civic Park, culminating in a final reveal/celebration on May 26th.

Well, the installation is done and up in downtown Walnut Creek, and I’d highly recommend you go check it out! It’s extremely unique and interactive, and it draws your eyes right to it. I recently stopped by Civic Park to take pictures and experience “Sure Enough!” It is fun to meander through and get lost in the moment and just watch other people do the same. I got there after the celebration and people were still coming into the park with curiosity and then continuing through to see the Hand of Peace.

As mentioned in my previous blog, the installation is made possible because The Bedford Galley and City of Walnut Creek Public Art Department have a National Endowment for the Arts grant.  This project is inspired by the idea that art is for everyone.   I am continually impressed with Walnut Creeks urban art and how they expose and engage the community to public art.

Dougherty is a world-famous sculptor, known for his larger-than-life woven willow sapling installations. He says that ¨Sure Enough” (which is a Southernism evoking a state of complete satisfaction) is aimed at the open skies to take in “that special California light.”

Dougherty, who has won many awards for his work, started out with single pieces on pedestals and moved into these monumental, scaled works which require truckloads of saplings. He has built more than 250 of them now, and has become internationally acclaimed for sculptures worldwide, including Scotland, Japan, France, and more. The “Sure Enough” installation will be there for a couple years, so no need to hurry, but next time you’re in or around Civic Park, make sure to check it out!

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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Art Town: Sculpture by BART

Have you ever noticed the big wooden sculpture across the street from the Walnut Creek BART back parking lot? It’s right between the big office buildings that engulf Caffe California. Funny enough, it’s just down the block from our Better Homes and Gardens offices!

I’ve walked past this a few times and never gave it a second glance, but I actually noticed it recently and I love the composition of the structure. It kind of looks like a bunch of different parts of a piano was disassembled and dropped in a heap on the concrete.

Make sure to take a look next time you’re on your way to or from BART. It’s pretty cool!

Art Town: Sparks

Tucked away in front of a building on Cole Ave. (off N. California Blvd. by The Counter), is a cool sculpture called “Sparks.” I never would have noticed it if not for looking up while I was walking by.

The sculptor is Linda Fleming, a longtime sculpture professor at California College of the Arts. She has three major pieces at the Oakland Museum, which you can see HERE, HERE and HERE.

Lesson learned: always pay attention to your surroundings so you don’t miss anything!

Art Town: Family

There is a very good chance you’ll recognize today’s Art Town sculpture. Even if you don’t bank with Chase (or Washington Mutual, as it used to be known), you’ll surely have wandered past “Family” on the corner of Newell and S. Main before.

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This is a bronze sculpture (it has changed colors over the years because of basic exposure to the elements) created by Richard Ellis and placed on that corner in 1982. It was one of the first public pieces of art in Walnut Creek!

Ellis made the 9-foot tall sculpture to represent a timeless scene of “a fleeting moment in time.” Very cool! Fun fact about Ellis, who studied Sculpture in Los Angeles: he crafted the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award that was presented to Oprah Winfrey in 2002.

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: 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!