Artists, City Refine Sculpture Plan

Next step: a walking tour of San Pablo Avenue to assess possible sites.

Controversy over what will be the largest public art project in the city’s history appeared forgotten as arts commissioners and artists sat down together to examine renderings of kinetic abstract sculptures that will hang from streetlight poles along San Pablo Avenue.

Organic in shape and form, the sculptures feature copper shapes in various textures that rotate around a single axle within C-shaped arcs of stainless steel.

Berkeley husband and wife artists Russell Ide and Saori Ide have a $100,000 commission from the city to design and install the roughly 4 and a half-foot sculptures, which will hang some 20 feet off the ground.

Only three members of the panel were present at the when they narrowed 26 designs down to 13. All five were on hand at the El Cerrito Arts and Culture Commission meeting last night to make the final cut from 13 to 12.

Both artists and commissioners had a new piece of information to digest: Caltrans prohibits kinetic sculpture on the street side of light poles.

“At first I was horrified,” Russell said. “I’ve warmed up to it over the last 24 hours.” Suspending the sculptures only on the sidewalk side “could actually be quite fun,” he said.

The ruling is somewhat ironic since kinetic sculptures offer less wind resistance, which makes them safer, he said.

The commissioners voted to place the sculptures in two groups of six each. Before they settle on a specific placement, they will meet for a walking tour of San Pablo Avenue – a trek Russell said he and Ide have made “at least 100 times.”

“We’ve looked at literally every place you could put a sculpture,” he said.

The artists will present the panel with a final proposal in January that details costs and other specifics. Ultimately the plan will go before the city council.

The project is the long-delayed, public-art piece of the city's multi-year San Pablo Avenue Streetscape Project.

The commission and the artists have come a long way since the panel their first proposal.




David Wenger December 22, 2011 at 04:43 PM
My only concern is the rising occurrence of copper and steel theft for miniscule reward at the Metal Recyclers. How will we protect our art from this inevitable fate?
Deborah Henderson December 22, 2011 at 07:30 PM
I can't believe any city thinks it can hang copper in public and not have it stolen...! How about investing those thousands of dollars in keeping our library open more hours. Public art is over rated - it's soon ignored. The banners are already quite adequate..
Larry Craighill December 23, 2011 at 12:34 AM
As I understand it, this will be hung up high on utility poles on well lit busy intersections. The theft of recyclable metals is common, and it's surprising how brazen the thieves are, but this installation it not at much risk. As for the appropriation of funds for civic improvements, that train left the station a long time ago. Throwing away the work that's gone into this process this far would be reckless and wasteful regardless of your priorities. I'm very much in favor of keeping our libraries open as much as possible, and improving the facilities. I also feel the arts in all their many forms, literary, musical, theatrical and visual should be supported, not be pit one against the other. Advocate for your choice, not against another.
pete December 28, 2011 at 08:17 AM
O.K. Larry if you say they are not a much risk I trust you have data that backs that up.
Larry Craighill December 28, 2011 at 03:06 PM
Thank you for your trust and support. ; ) But seriously, it's mostly an educated guess. I work as an inspector on public projects, and we often have raging debates about what will be stolen or vandalized next. All I can say is the things we feared most seldom happened, and then we get surprised by things we couldn't have imagined. As a general rule however, things that are high out of reach, and in well lit, heavily trafficked areas are the least vulnerable. As an example, copper downspouts will disappear while the gutters on the same building will remain indefinitely. (Yes, I have data.) Also the recyclers readily accept bulk industrial materials such as copper wire, but they may be more likely to question the source of something that is custom built and new. The recyclers do get a visit from our detectives. I've even had to provide documents supporting the source of some steel rails before a recycling shop would accept them from one of my contractors.
Kenneth Ellis December 28, 2011 at 10:58 PM
Speaking of kinetic...Author KENNETH ADRIAN ELLIS has a documented four-part special power that is revealed to readers in: A Kinetic Person's Power, Sub Titled: Voice Command Ability. His/This power is documented by the Library Of Congress by way of a Certificate Of Copyright for video footage of the ability being performed! Visit the following four links...(1st) ~WATCH~ www.YouTube.com ,search: Kenneth A. Ellis , to view the Author Display Video with over 11,800 views....(2nd) ~READ~ www.prlog.org/10285981 ,which is the official Press Releae with over 2,100 views....(3rd) ~LISTEN~ www.BlogTalkRadio.com/Strategic-Book-Club ,to listen to the 15 minute episode in "On Demand Episodes".....(4th) ~CONNECT~ www.TINYURL.COM/AUTHOR-KENNETH-ELLIS ,which is the Fan Page on Face Book! THANK YOU!
Barbara H December 29, 2011 at 06:39 PM
I'm a bit disappointed that the art won't be on the street side because I had imagined the artwork would be highly visible to drivers as they drove along San Pablo Avenue. They'd see the unifying art and know they had arrived in our fair city because the look and feel would change. I suspect it is way too late for the concept to change again (large groans from artists and commission), but if the art can't be installed on the road-side and if theft of metal is of real concern, I'm almost for going back to the artists' original two dimensional graphic icons installed as double-sided banners down the length of SP Avenue. BUT instead of using the bright colors that lent a coloring-book aspect to the art (no offense intended because that is a style), do it in goldish brown copper SEPIA tones and we can still get that gold-coppery look in two-dimensions ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sepia_tone ) . Or if gold-brown is too retro you can use greenish sepia tones. And if having banners in monochromatic SEPIA lining SP Avenue in El Cerrito is too subtle then add ONE spot of bright color to the banner -- for instance make the shoes bright chartreuse. Anyway, this is just the musing of one El Cerrito resident who would love to see our city have something to give it a unified look.
Barbara H December 29, 2011 at 08:34 PM
Well, while I'm on an art roll, I would like to suggest to the Art Commission that if we go forward with the lovely abstract kinetic sculptures on the sidewalk side of the light poles then the next art project (assuming there is continued funding for art in El Cerrito) be recognizable graphic or photographic images representing El Cerrito -- printed or photographed onto sturdy banners for lining San Pablo Avenue. In terms of process my suggestion would be Commission or some body of residents first agree on what objects or scenes or themes are representative of our city and on which light pole the image would be placed. (e.g. an Indian hut, a shopper, an artist's pallet, a proscenium stage, etc.). Then you can go in a number of directions. See next posting below.. .
Barbara H December 29, 2011 at 08:45 PM
continued . . . One would be to first settle on a single unifying style -- (for example: art nouveau ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_nouveau#Art.2C_drawing.2C_and_graphics ); or stick figures (;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stick_figure ); or super realistic photography ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Estes ) or have various styles but then select a single technique (for example monochrome or duotone graphics or photography). Another would be way more time-consuming and would not necessarily create a unifying look, but would get more people participating: have the general images or themes pre-determined by the Commission and get the local artists and/or the El Cerrito High art and photography classes involved in creating at least some of the images in any medium suitable for printing on a flat banner. If the Commission has settled on a monochromatic technique then the artists should be told whatever they create will end up in shades of green, blue, brown or whatever. Alternatively, the Commission might decide any artist's work will be depicted as created, and the unity part will be that we have artwork on banners in many different styles. The process of having a committee select one piece from numerous submitted pieces for each desired image might not be practical, and the Art Commission will be the best judge of what is doable. And now off to plant some starts.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something