Tag Archives: public art

Katrina Tree

Standard

When my dad died, my sibling insisted I travel to Mississippi for his memorial service.

I was house sitting in Tracy, California when he passed on Monday afternoon. My dad’s wife scheduled the memorial service for the upcoming Friday evening. By Tuesday I’d bought a $600 round-trip airline ticket. By Thursday morning, I was flying out of Oakland, on my way down South.

My sibling and my sibling’s partner met me at the airport in New Orleans. They rented a car, and the partner drove us through the darkness surrounding Interstate 10, all the way to Ocean Springs. The three of us visited awkwardly with my father’s wife (who was holding up exceptionally well), then headed to Bay St. Louis where we would spend the night.

We stayed at the home of my sibling’s partner’s aunt and uncle. The aunt and uncle were out of town, but they graciously offered us the use of their empty home. It was dark when we pulled into the driveway, but my sibling managed to find the hidden spare key. It wasn’t long before we were passed out in the spare bedrooms, exhausted and probably still shocked at the unexpected death of the patriarch.

The next morning we were blessed by being able to sleep until we woke up naturally. My sibling cooked breakfast and we planned our day. I needed to stop at a thrift store before we saw my dad’s wife again so I could buy a new shirt. (I only had one shirt with me, the one I’d worn the night before. I thought my dad’s wife would only see me once before the memorial service, but it turned out she’d see me twice, and I knew she would notice if I had on the same shirt I’d been wearing the night before.) Before we went back to my dad’s house, my sibling wanted to show me the “Katrina Trees.”

My sibling and the partner and their son had visited my dad and his wife the previous summer. During the visit, my dad and his wife had taken them to see several “Katrina Trees.” The “Katrina Trees” were trees that had been killed by Hurrican Katrina in 2005 and later carved into large-scale sculptures. My sibling wanted me to see at least one of these trees that meant so much to my dad and his wife.

According to https://www.gulfcoast.org/listings/hurricane-katrina-tree-sculptures/3683/, the

tree-sculptures are located all along scenic Highway 90. There are now approximately 50 sculptures throughout the Mississippi Gulf Coast,

The website for the city of Biloxi (https://www.biloxi.ms.us/katrina-biloxi/sculptures/) says,

The trees were victims of the saltwater storm surge of Hurricane Katrina.

There was no plaque with the tree, no explanation or artist information. I did some internet research and determined this tree was carved by chainsaw artist Dayle Lewis of Indiana. My conclusion was confirmed by “Lewis 2012” carved into the bottom of the sculpture, just under the heron.

According to https://www.gulfcoast.org/listings/hurricane-katrina-carved-angels/4266/, Lewis has carved angel sculptures out of six live oaks killed by Hurricane Katrina’s 40-foot saltwater surge. The trees can be found throughout Bay St. Louis.

  • Two…“Carved Angels” stand in the Cedar Rest Cemetery on Second Street[.]
  • One [is on] Beach Blvd – In front of Our Lady of the Gulf Church[.]
  • One [is] near Century Hall[.]
  • Two are located on the first block of Demontluzin Avenue[.] The “Demontluzin Avenue Angel” was used as a life raft by three Katrina survivors and their dog.

I read an article on the Florida Times-Union website (http://jacksonville.com/sports/outdoorsoutside/2014-08-30/story/angel-tree-mississippi-gulf-coast-saved-3-lives-during) which shows a photo of the tree I visited with the story of the three Katrina survivors and the dog, but I think they used the wrong image. While both trees were carved by Dayle Lewis, the tree where the three people and the dog spent the night during the hurricane was described in an article on the WGNO web page (http://wgno.com/2016/09/14/the-unique-guardian-angels-of-bay-st-louis/) as “probably the plainest of them all.” The article goes on to say,

The most elaborate of the four angel trees looks out to sea, just like the original one — it has several angels carved into it, along with some herons, ladybugs, turtles and pelicans. One of the angels has white eyes — of all the angels that adorn the four angel trees, it’s the only one with white eyes.

The tree I visited is clearly elaborate, faces the sea, features turtles, herons, and pelicans (sorry, but I don’t remember any ladybugs), and includes an angel with white eyes.

We didn’t stay at the tree very long. I took photos, and my sibling hugged it, then we headed back to my dad’s house to prepare for his memorial service. We didn’t stay long, but it did me good to see the tree. It did me good to see such a wonderful part of the life of my father, a life that I missed for so many years.

The Grand Theatre (Tracy, CA)

Standard

img_7391

When I was out walking the self-guided tour of the historic buildings of downtown Tracy, CA, the coolest place I saw was the Grand Theatre.

img_7412According to the walking tour brochure,

The Grand Theatre was built in 1923 by German born John Droge to present vaudeville acts and then-silent motion pictures. The first “talkies” were show in 1929. Remodeled in 1940 in an Art Deco style, the movie house continued until 1977. In 2007 the city restored the theater complex and it was reopened as The Grand Theatre Center for the Arts.

According to the theatre’s website (http://atthegrand.org/AboutUs),

The classical Grand Theatre, designed by architect Albert W. Cornelius, opened on August 11, 1923 as a premiere vaudeville half-house in the area.

The facility received a major remodel during its heyday between 1939 and 1941 (under the Allen’s ownership), garnered with bold new art deco features including a sculptural marquee designed by Alexander Cantin and futuristic mural by Anthony (Antoon) Heinsbergen. Between the mid-40’s and 1977, it functioned as an eclectic movie house with occasional live performances.

This municipal interdisciplinary arts center is the only one of its kind in the state of California offering professional and community-based fine arts programming through arts education, exhibitions, performances and rentals of all kinds, in a single complex, and is one of only small network of similar facilities in America.

The 37,000+ square foot facility opened in September of 2007, hosts 50,000 patrons a year and is currently celebrating its 10th Anniversary Season. The Center is owned and operated by the City of Tracy and managed by the Cultural Arts Division in the City Manager’s Office.

img_7400I went inside to have a look around, and was surprised to find free Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) activities underway. I grabbed a free piece of pan dulce and exited the building.

There were some cool murals on the theatre’s 7th Street wall. They caught my attention, and I stopped to give them a good look.

The murals are part of the Tracy Mural Project. According to the project’s website (http://atthegrand.org/TracyMuralProject),

The Downtown Tracy Mural Project began in the summer of 2015 in conjunction with the Tracy Artwalk.  The Project invites local and regional artists to create murals and street art at 7th Street and in Jackson Alley on the walls of the Grand.  This innovative project features temporary murals owned by the City of Tracy. They remain on display from weeks to years, rotating as new works are presented.  The public appreciation of these projects has led to futhur interest to create murals at other locations in downtown Tracy.img_7397

Several themes have been explored in a variety of media, ranging from spray paint to wheatpaste, energizing the streetscape and celebrating the arts in our community.  We are open to any ideas which add interest and excitement to the downtown district!

I really liked the robots decorating the wall during my visit.

I also liked the mural featuring the wolf and the crow. The mural was painted by Ilena Finocchi. According to Finocchi’s website (http://www.ilenaf.com/ilenaf.com/Pub_Art/Pages/Tracy_CA_Mural.html),

In nature, the wolf and the crow can be frequently found in each other’s company. They have been linked together in play and in foraging for food. The crows fly ahead of the wolf pack to locate food, and the grateful wolves leave behind food for the crows. This symbiotic relationship between the two species is mutually beneficial.

img_7401

    In developing the Grand, citizens and civic leaders looked more than a decade into the future to see the community’s needs and goals. They, much like the crow, flew years ahead and decided that reviving the arts at the Grand was the cultural nourishment that Tracy needed. They raised money and awareness to rebuild and reopen the Grand as the creative hub for the City of Tracy. The wolves soon followed and the Grand reopened with support of the community.

    Since opening, there have been many hard working crow-like staff members who have had the foresight to keep the Grand evolving with the changing needs of the wolf-like hungry community. The mural is a way for me as an artist to assume the role of the crow and through the art let the community know about the dedication and hard work of the staff at the Grand. The Grand has become a positive and powerful force in the community, not only in participation in the arts, but also as a cultural jewel to draw new businesses and corporations into town.

    The mural is a celebration of the long road of hard work and the driving force of the arts and its positive impact on the community.

The other cool mural is “Planet of the Apes” Kenney Mencher.

img_7398

According to the Tracy Press (http://www.goldenstatenewspapers.com/tracy_press/news/more-music-murals-for-artwalk/article_2350e088-2e8a-11e6-94fe-e3e964b2ff82.html),

Mencher, who is the Grand’s artist in residence this summer [2016], will create a streetscape with a “Planet of the Apes” theme on Seventh Street. Wilson said the piece will provide a photo opportunity for visitors to pose on a bench with the mural wrapping around them.

From what I surmise, Mencher painted the robots too.

The Tracy Press also reported in the aforementioned article,

The murals are designed to be temporary projects, lasting from a few weeks to a few years.

I’ve grown to think of murals (especially murals approved by a municipality) as permanent. As the Merry Pranksters proclaimed, art is not eternal. Apparently the murals in Tracy prove this idea to be true.

I took all of the photos in this post.

 

 

 

Teaching Children Since 1878

Standard

img_5844

I’ve written before about the sculptures on Main Street in Mesa, Arizona. (Read about The Big Pink Chair here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/10/07/the-big-pink-chair/ and Booked for the Day here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/10/15/booked-for-the-day/.) Today’s featured sculpture is called Teaching Children Since 1878.

According to http://collections.si.edu/search/results.htm?q=record_ID:siris_ari_316604,

The sculpture is the central piece of a larger plaza setting, which includes 16 bronze or brass relief plaques on surrounding stucco wall with inscriptions on the history of education in Mesa and 4 columns from the original Mesa High School (formerly known as the second Abraham Lincoln School).

The brochure (https://res-5.cloudinary.com/simpleview/image/upload/v1/clients/mesa/DMA%20Sculpture%20Guide%203-2015_7bd31763-551d-4e7d-8dac-5cdcc56c8d24.pdf) with information about the self-guided tour of the Mesa’s sculpture collection lists the sculptor as James Avati, but the img_5842aforementioned Smithsonian Institution website lists three people as sculptors of this piece: James  R. Avati, C. L. Harding, and Dennis Tidwell.

While writing this post, I learned James R. Avati is from a family of artist. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Avati,

“His [grand]father was a professional photographer in New York City and his father was “James Sante Avati…an American illustrator and paperbackcover artist. ”

James R. Avati’s biography on the Utah Artist Project website (http://www.lib.utah.edu/collections/utah-artists/UAP-James-Avati.php) refers to Teaching Children Since 1878 as a “major commission.” It also says,

James R. Avati of Redbank, New Jersey, and Salt Lake City, is an excellent and sensitive sculptor who img_5845studied at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts, at the Arts Students League in New York City, at Ricks College in Idaho, and at Brigham Young University. He was also a graduate student in the Department of Art at the University of Utah where he earned his M.F.A. in 1988. While there he worked with Angelo Caravaglia in the development of his frequently powerful art.

This life-size bronze sculpture is located on the south side of Mesa’s Main Street, on the corner of Sirrine Street.

I enjoy the juxtaposition of the fashions worn by the teacher and her students against the backdrop of modern buildings and cars, motorcycles and traffic lights. The teacher reminds me of a statue of a pioneer woman in Austin, TX a friend and I once used as the star of a short film.

Next time you’re strolling in downtown Mesa, be sure to checkout these scholars.

I took all of the photos in this post.

Booked for the Day

Standard

I recently wrote about the public art on Main Street in Mesa, AZ and mentioned my favorite sculpture there, The Big Pink Chair . (Read that post here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/10/07/the-big-pink-chair/.)

Another piece in Mesa’s outdoor art collection that I like a lot is Booked for the Day by Dan Hill.

img_5780

The statue is made from bronze, and is 42″h x 16″w x 30″d. It has a copyright of 2000.

Of course, I like the fact that the girl is reading. I love reading and books, so I was tickled to see two of my passions depicted in art. I also like the fact that the sculpture is sitting on a bench, out in public, just like a real person. It’s fun to sit next to this depiction of a young reader or stand behind her and look at the pages of the book over her shoulder. Oh, the possibilities for photo opportunities for anyone visiting Mesa’s Main Street with friends! img_5783

Dan Hill’s website (http://www.danhillsculpture.com/booked-for-the-day.html) says,

        A good book is hard to put down and this girl won’t be putting her book down anytime soon. Ten-year old Erica, engrossed in Harry Potter, was the inspiration for this interactive sculpture. This sculpture is in the permanent public collections of the City of Mesa, Arizona; the Carnegie-Evans Public Library, Albia, Iowa; the Palos Heights Public Library, Palos Heights, Illinois; the Eccles Community Art Center, Ogden, Utah; City of Ankeny, Iowa; Cleary University, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Main Street Garden, Twin Falls, Idaho; the Prescott Public Library, Prescott, Arizona; and the Ligonier Public Library, Ligonier, Indiana. 

According to the aforementioned website,

[Dan Hill’s] talent for s[c]ulpting emerged accidentally in 1974 when he was lounging around at home recuperating from a work related foot injury.  While watching an old western on television, he began messing around img_5781with a toothpick and some playdough [sic]…By the time the movie had ended [Hill] had sculpted a small bust, capturing a remarkable likeness of actor Lee Marvin.  These humble beginnings as a sculptor were followed by the early success of two sports action sculpture commissions and a first place ribbon in the Professional Sculpture Division at the Utah State Fair.

Booked for the Day is located on the south side of Main Street, between Robson Street and MacDonald Street.

View the brochure that goes along with the self-guided tour of Mesa’s sculpture collection here: https://res-5.cloudinary.com/simpleview/image/upload/v1/clients/mesa/DMA%20Sculpture%20Guide%203-2015_7bd31763-551d-4e7d-8dac-5cdcc56c8d24.pdf.

img_5784

I took all of the photos in this post.

The Big Pink Chair

Standard

img_5917

Mesa, Arizona is a very strange town in the greater Phoenix metro area. Mesa is full of Mormons and meth and…art. Well, at least downtown Mesa is full of art.

According to a brochure that goes along with the self-guided tour of the town’s sculpture collection (https://res-5.cloudinary.com/simpleview/image/upload/v1/clients/mesa/DMA%20Sculpture%20Guide%203-2015_7bd31763-551d-4e7d-8dac-5cdcc56c8d24.pdf)

Mesa’s Growing Permanent Sculpture Collection features 39 fine pieces, most of which are displayed downtown (four privately owned sculptures are also on loan). Enjoy a FREE self-guided outdoor walking tour of the sculptures any time of day or night, any day of the week.

(Do what you want, but I wouldn’t recommend hanging around Main Street in downtown Mesa in the middle of the night.)

My favorite piece in Mesa’s sculpture collection is The Big Pink Chair. The above photo does not do it justice. It’s not just a big pink chair. It’s a BIG pink chair. An adult sitting in it looks like a little child. When I sit in it, my legs don’t hang down. When I sit in it, my feet stick straight out.

And yes, folks can climb up and sit in the chair. It makes for a great photo op, so visit it with a group of friends (especially if you time your visit for 3am).

img_5918The Big Pink Chair is a work by Mary Consie. It’s located on the north side of Main Street, between Morris Street and Robson Street.

I took the photos in this post.

More Art in Truth or Consequences

Standard

Walk around Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, and you’ll see not only galleries full of art, but art covering the walls of buildings and decorating the alleys.

I’ll get this party started by sharing my least favorite piece of public art in Truth or Consequences. This is a tile SDC10039mosaic on the front of the Bank of the Southwest at 509 N Broadway Street. It’s a nice enough (although somewhat bland to my eye) mosaic, except for the caption, “Our Heritage.” Sure, it’s supposed to be inclusive, with the Spanish Catholic guy on the left, the Native American fellow in the middle, and the white cowboy/rancher man on the right, but what about women? Did only men play a role in the heritage of Truth or Consequences/Southern New Mexico/the Southwest? I think not. I roll my eyes every time I see this piece of work that renders invisible the women who played a role in the town’s history.

(After doing some basic Google searching, I was not able to find the name of the artist who did this mosaic, nor when it was completed. If you know the name of the artist and the history of this mosaic, please leave a comment with the info.)

A piece I like more is this one, located in the alley behind the storefront on Broadway that once housed the CHF thrift store.

IMG_3986

Notice the mural around the windows of the white house in the background. Mural and mixed-media piece by Mary Kinninger Walker.

IMG_3987

Detail of the above piece. I like the smaller objects attached to the metal lids.

It’s a mixed media, found object, three-dimensional collage. For a long time, I didn’t know who’d done this piece, but two readers wrote in and told me the work is by Mary Kinninger Walker.

There are so many murals in T or C, I didn’t have a chance to get photos of them all, even though I was in town for about three weeks during my last visit. (In my defense, it was cold out, and I didn’t walk around a lot.)

Another mural I like is this one of a IMG_3948black bird (crow? raven? I can never tell the difference) on a building on Main Street, near the Passion Pie Cafe. I like those puffy little clouds against the light blue sky too. According to the Spring 2015 Sierra County Artist Directory (volume 13), the bird and the sky were painted by Bonita Barlow in 1999.

IMG_3999I also like this painting of the Virgin Mary. (Love those spirals on her cheeks!) She’s painted on a building that’s behind a hurricane fence, so was difficult for me to get a good shot of her, but she is surrounded by color and intricate patterns. The Virgin was also painted by Mary Kinninger Walker.

IMG_3998

Perhaps this manifestation of the Virgin was painted by one of the artists mentioned on the Sierra County, New Mexico website (http://www.sierracountynewmexico.info/attractions/art-in-truth-or-consequences-hillsboro-and-more/).

Truth or Consequences is also home to a growing number of outdoor murals; you’ll find them painted on bath houses, shops, homes, and even vacant buildings located in increasingly colorful alleyways.

I wish that website had shown some of those murals and shared the name of the artists.

I took the next three photos during my first visit to Truth or Consequences in March of 2014. This mural is painted on the back of a building and can be seen from the alley. I was attracted by the bright colors, the turtles, and the skeleton with wings. I found a photo of the skeleton in the above-mentioned Sierra County Artist Directory, and the piece was attributed to Mary Kinninger Walker and Donna Monroe.SDC10033SDC10032

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SDC10031

The next three pieces were also painted by Mary Kinninger Walker.  All of these are located on the back of buildings and can be seen from alleys.

IMG_3993

When Pigs Fly is a shop in T or C. I think this mural must be on what was the back exit to the store when it was located on Broadway.

 

 

 

IMG_4000

I like art that pretties up plain or ugly things.

IMG_3994

Love these super bright colors!

 

IMG_3991

These brightly colored pieces were also painted by Mary Kinninger Walker.

IMG_4003The photo to the left is a detail of a jungle-scene mural that covers the entire back wall of a building. (If I remember correctly, the front of this building is on Broadway.) I love the way the building’s actual window becomes the window of the jungle hut. I love the alert black cat on the roof of the hut. I love the way the swing fits right into the scene. Anyone know who painted this one?

 

 

 

IMG_4093

Information about this mural from http://www.ohwy.com/nm/w/wattanmu.htm

Just about anywhere downtown, one can see this big water tank on the hill and the mural by Anthony Penrock that wraps around it. According to the Online Highways website,

Artist Tony Pennock of Las Cruses, New Mexico painted three water tank murals in Truth or Consequences in the early 1990s. [This] One shows Apache horsemen traveling to rest at the hot springs.

 

IMG_3974

 

These tags are on a (retaining?) wall on Main Street, near the old post office and the Geronimo Springs Museum. I think graffiti is as legitimate as any other art form.

IMG_3978Sometimes art is functional, like this blue door on Main Street. I really like the intricate design highlighted in that soft yellow.

I hope to go back to T or C someday and take more photos of public art to share here.

I took all of the photos in this post.