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?

 

Broadway Plaza grand opening

Last Thursday, you may have been startled by big explosions in downtown Walnut Creek. Don’t worry, it was only fireworks signifying Broadway Plaza’s grand re-opening at their “Party in the Plaza” event! If you missed the food trucks and concert that night, you can still catch the encore to the celebration tomorrow (Fri., Sept. 9) from 6-9 p.m.

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Tomorrow’s festivities are themed “A Night of Thanks” and is aimed to thank the community for its patience and support during construction. There will be in-store events, musical performances, food and wine tastings, and more. Boudin, Clarks, GAP, Diablo Magazine and the Walnut Creek Downtown are sponsors and partners of the event.

We can’t guarantee more fireworks, but this seems like a pretty great way to spend a warm summer night downtown, exploring the newest re-addition to the city. The one-night only celebration will include a special “Meet & Greet” from a NYX celebrity beauty influencer, a Fall Fashion sneak peek, and a fundraiser for Wardrobe for Opportunity.

Stores participating with special events or deals include:

  • Allen Edmonds
  • Athleta
  • Hanna Andersson
  • J. Jill
  • Kate Spade New York
  • Kiehl’s
  • L’Occitane
  • Macy’s
  • Sephora
  • Soma Intimates

Check out Walnut Creek in 1991!

You’ll never believe what we found on Walnut Creek TV’s Facebook! Check out this throwback video of Walnut Creek in 1991 – the year I moved here. I found it interesting that the population back then (according to the freeway sign in the video) was about 59,000, meaning Walnut Creek has only added a few thousand people in 25 years, despite so much commercial growth!

This reminds me of what Walnut Creek looked like when I first moved here – when the old movie theater and Simon’s were still the hot spots downtown. What a trip, check out the dueling eggs in red back then!

What Labor Day Weekend means to me

Labor Day 3 Ah, the long-anticipated three-day weekend that everyone looks forward to at the end of summer: Labor Day is upon us! Whether you’re spending the last weekend of summer at a BBQ, up in Tahoe or just having a staycation at home, it’s a great chance to relax with family and friends and soak up some rays before the long trek into winter begins.

To me, Labor Day means time spent at the lake, good food and a short break from the crazy working world.  If you’re looking for something to do over the long weekend locally, check out what’s in store for Labor Day in Walnut Creek:

  • Broadway Plaza parties: L’Occitane and Tommy Bahama’s are among the stores that are celebrating their grand re-openings in the newly refurbished downtown shopping district. Great excuse to get out, check out the remodel and shop ’til you drop!
  • “Nuts About Rio: Faster, Higher Stronger” is this year’s theme for the annual Labor Day Aquanuts synchronized swimming show at Heather Farm Park. Beer and wine will be sold at the 47th annual event, which celebrates the recently-completed Olympic Games.
  • The Walnut Creek Concert Band will be putting on a Labor Day Park Concert show at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, September 5th. Labor Day 1

I hope everybody has a safe and happy Labor Day weekend.  I leave you with an interesting Labor Day thought …

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the first Labor Day was observed on September 5, 1882. An estimated 10,000 workers gathered for a New York City parade organized by the Central Labor Union.

Unions were very important back then, but think now about our labor force of freelancers and entrepreneurs and how it’s changing! Millennials are much more apt to live the “Google life” now, where all their food, health and leisure amenities are literally in the offices with them. Or, they freelance! My freelance writer left a cushy job in P.R. to work on his own schedule with his own clients and he joked earlier that “every day is Labor Day for him if he wants it to be!” Funny how things have changed.

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…

ØL keepin’ Walnut Creek hip and hydrated

IMG_9143Have you ever been to ØL Beercafe and Bottleshop in downtown Walnut Creek?

Since opening in 2013, ØL has become a mainstay on the East Bay beer scene.

With its dark, cozy interior and constantly-changing FullSizeRender (3)kegs of unusual, often strangely-named beers, it’s a great place to grab a drink.

The bar rotates small kegs of beer as they run out, so unless you’re a regular, chances are you’ll never taste the same beer here twice!

If you haven’t already, check ØL out next time you go downtown. It has plenty of tables in a small, private space, as well as a full bottleshop, separate bar area and a couple of refrigerators with unique beers available for purchase (both to drink at the bar and for take-home). If you’re hungry, you can order in a pizza from Skipolini’s next door or get some charcuterie.

And, of course, the crown jewel of ØL is its beer, which is just fantastic. When my team and I met there last week, we tried a few different beers, with the best of the bunch being a Mike Hess Ficus Fig Saison and a Mahrs Bräu Hell.

In past experiences, I’ve tried everything from barleywine to heavy ambers to sours. ØL is a local watering hole in Walnut Creek that resembles a European beer cafe, in that there are no TV’s and it’s not too loud to have a conversation.

The focus is on the delicious drinks and socializing with good company. ØL is a perfect place to start or end your night!

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Art Town: Bike Watchers

Walnut Creek isn’t just becoming a hot spot for dining options and to live – it’s also quickly filling up with quirky, mesmerizing art! That’s probably because city ordinance says 1% of any new construction project budget must be dedicated to erecting public art or donated to a public art fund.

Check out this new piece next to the Teleferic/Rooftop/Vineyard Vines building:

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Take a stroll around town, you will be amazed at all the art there is to see … one just needs to be observant.  Enjoy!

“Flux” on display at Bedford

IMG_9128 Sometimes you just have to get out of the office. Our Walnut Creek Lifestyle Group decided to take a little outing to the Bedford Gallery for its new exhibit (free to the public each first Tuesday of every month!), which preceded our meeting over beers at ØL around the corner.IMG_9125

The exhibit on display through the end of August is called “Flux” by artist Crystal Wagner.

The colorful art installation was built from chicken wire and disposable tablecloths and takes up almost all of the gallery space.

One of the most interesting things about the artist is that she does not pre-plan her installations; she looks at the space available and creates a twisting shape to fit it.

Wagner, according to the accompanying information at the exhibit, intentionally builds installations where the viewer is overshadowed by an enormous sculpture. She wants the viewer to be surrounded by bright colors and feel as if they are dwarfed by all the surrounding textures.

IMG_9127Her work is anchored in herIMG_9126 anxiety about the compromised state of the natural world but is designed to bring joy to her audience. The piece was really quite remarkable.

Check out the timelapse from the Bedford website below, as well as all the pictures my team took.

Also, keep an eye out for that ØL blog next Tuesday!

Live music in Broadway Plaza!

Courtesy: Foreverland.com
Courtesy: Foreverland.com

Looking for something to do on a lazy weeknight in Walnut Creek? Maybe craving another local live music show after your BottleRock or OutsideLands weekends? Well, you’re in luck!

Broadway Plaza is hosting its Summer Concert Series every Thursday night of this month. Each concert is free and open to the public from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

You’ve already missed one show on August 4th, but you can still catch:

  • Foreverland on August 11th
  • Mustache Harbor on August 18th
  • Tainted Love on August 25th.

Also, don’t forget the Party in the Plaza on September 1st: it’s a special event featuring a concert with Mark McGrath and Pop Rocks! For more information, click here. broadway plaza

This year’s event will be located in Broadway Plaza’s brand new Event Plaza, which is near Macy’s and the newly opened Broadway Lane.

They don’t allow outside food or beverage, but will sell both at the shows! Of course, you could always wander over to pretty much any bar or restaurant for a drink or a bite afterward from that location, too.

Walnut Creek continues to find cool ways to get its people outside this summer – enjoy and have a great time!   Just bit bummed about not bringing my cooler, but maybe that keeps it free!