Local artist Keith Peschel crafted these steel doors and grilles for the Sutter Community Parking Garage at 2701 N St. He’s dubbed the design (appropriately for a medical center facility) “Under the Microscope”.
A gallery of Peschel’s wide ranging work is available on his web site, Rock and Iron Design. He creates wine bars, chairs, doors, gates, hand rails, trellises and many other items from steel. Here is a double-entry gate from his gallery that I like a lot:
Amazingly enough, in Peschel’s work, “the Steel has been bent by hand. There is no use of heat or machinery in the bending process” (1). It is hard to imagine cold bending steel is even possible, and I bet it would be fascinating to watch the process.
And a final odd tidbit, Sutter posted a press release (of all things) for the grand opening of the parking garage.
Title: Under the Microscope
Artist: Keith Peschel
Location: East and west corners of the alley side of Sutter Community Parking Garage, 2701 N St
This ceramic tile mural on the California Energy Commission building at Ninth & P was created by Roy De Forest (1). The mural is about 60 feet long (2) and is described as a celebration of farming in the Sacramento area (3). I also see elements of Sacramento area history and landscape with the Native American man (top image just above the horse and bottom-left detail image below) and the Sierras in the distance (top-right detail image below).
The contract for this mural was part of the art funding in the Capitol Area Plan (4). De Forest spoke with Lynn Robert Matteson in an oral history interview and described how the tiles were created, given that he hadn’t previously worked with tile:
“I just got a big piece of paper – a big, you know, 10 – 12-foot high paper and got samples of tile by going to Mexico and I got a palette of individual colors of the glazes. So then I mixed up batches of color matches and then the big scenario was in my studio. And then I rolled those up and sent them to Mexico and they had some local artists or peons there or whatever you would call them paint each tile.” (5)
De Forest came to California in the 1950’s to study art and was involved early in the California Funk movement (6). This movement was also called Bay Area Funk or California Myth-Making (7).
[H]is paintings, drawings, and prints evolved into the brilliantly patterned mystical geographies, through which romped his signature dogs, wandering semi-humans and phantasmagoric traveling beasts. These visually compelling canvasses filled larger and more dazzling spaces with gleeful, self-reverent, yet serious and sophisticated images (8)
On a visit to SFMOMA several years ago, we happened to buy a small print of a De Forest painting and it demonstrates the dog-themed works that he is most known for:
“De Forest liked dogs, beady-eyed, tongue-lolling dogs,” explains Associate Professor of Art Julia Marshall in a teacher’s guide for a 2007 exhibit of De Forest’s work. “Repeated over and over in his many paintings, they are like a running joke, a crazy nonlinear story that continues from one picture to the next. These pictures are visually striking and fun to look at and De Forest always claimed that they were fun to make. That’s why he did them.” (9)
The mural below is installed in the San Francisco airport and uses an entirely different color palate but some similar imagery as the Ninth & P mural.
The Fuller Poles at 16th & Q enliven the corner of the parking lot of what was once the Fuller Paint store. The sculpture was created by the designstudio of famed graphic designer, Saul Bass, as part of an identity campaign for the Fuller O’Brien Paint Company in the early 1960’s (1). It consists of 81 poles set in a 9 x 9 grid (2).
Originally, all 81 poles were painted a different color (3). They have been repainted at least twice and reduced to about half of the original 81 colors. One site reports that the poles are currently painted 32 (4) colors and another reports 45 (5).
Bass subcontracted this 3D work to a friend, Herb Rosenthal, and the poles were actually designed by Dick Hastings who worked in Rosenthal’s firm (6). Hastings eventually moved to Sacramento; he had an interest in historic buildings and became the city’s first preservation director (7).
Researching this sculpture is the first I’ve heard of Saul Bass. He has an interesting design history:
Saul Bass was one of the nation’s leading graphic designers from 1960 to 1990. He became famous for some of his logo designs for numerous national companies including Quaker Oats, Girl Scouts of America, AT&T, United Way and United Airlines. Bass was also known for his design of film titles, including Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Psycho. (8)
The poles were first designed for the 1964 World Fair but they were never used for that project (9). Initially, they were designed to be freestanding so they would move with the wind. However, this design proved too costly, so a steel grid was attached to the top in order to restrain the poles from movement (10).
This sculpture is dubbed a Mid-Century icon in Sacramento (11). Mid-Century style “followed the Modernist fashions of the day, including then-new materials like concrete, glass and steel, and new styles inspired by Bauhaus, Prairie and International Style schools of architecture.” (12).
Today, Midtown [Sacramento] is best known for its Victorian and early 20th century architecture, but examples of mid-century architecture and design can be found alongside century-old Queen Annes and heritage trees. During the mid-century era, Midtown’s colorful Italianates were considered gaudy firetraps, Craftsman bungalows plain and uninviting, and revival styles simply unfashionable. Minimalist but bold, Modernism was far better suited to the exciting space-age era of high-speed freeways, jet airplanes, and nuclear power. (13)
Because the sculpture is on private property, it is not protected as public art. The fate of the Fuller Poles lies with the owner of the property. It is encouraging that the poles have been painted in recent years. It is also encouraging that during the opening celebration of BloodSource (the current tenant) in Oct 2009, they handed out “a special poster to celebrate the BloodSource center, its donors and the Saul Bass commissioned poles” (14).
Under the grid is an array of lights and here is a fabulous nighttime photo from another blog:
Title: Fuller Poles
Artist: Saul Bass / Dick Hastings
Location: 16th & Q
This interlocking stainless steel grillwork created by Gale McCall can be found on O Street between 14th and 15th along the outside of the childcare facility yard at the Department of Education building.
The fence runs about half of the length of the entire block. There is a door at each end and one in the middle.
Between the doorways, there are eight large circular pieces that are made of interlocking shapes, cut-out like a puzzle and placed back together to make them whole (1).
Update Spring 2012: Two of the sculptures were knocked over, apparantly by a car accident, and they have since been removed.
This metal sculpture by Kristen Hoard sits in the roundabout at 26th & S. There are four figures marking each direction of the roundabout.
I can’t think of another roundabout in town that boasts art. Apparently Hoard went through an involved two-year process with the City of Sacramento and the Homeowners Association for this piece:
The public project that Kristen has named “Community” has involved submitting proposals and plans, obtaining engineering approval, and coordinating with other artists and assistants who have also donated their skills to cutting, grinding, powder coating, and eventually erecting the large metal pieces stabilized in concrete in a local traffic circle roundabout. Even the metal has been donated (Blue Collar Supply) since this is one of the few Kristen Hoard pieces that is not constructed of recycled metal (1)
The figures are powder coated a different color on each side, making eight colors total as a symbol of diversity in the Sacramento area (2). I bet it is particularly stunning in the spring when the flowers are in bloom.
Hoard works most often with recycled metal from scrap yards (3). She started working with metal in 1999 in the Bay Area and came to Sacramento about 7 years ago when she bought a house here and transformed the garage into her metal working studio.
My journey into artistry has been in parallel with my spiritual journey. And, I believe these two things are inseparably linked in numerous ways. The feeling I get from working with metal and all the processes involved is all consuming. There is great sensuality in working within this genre, because visually, heat brings out differing colors, shapes and textures that transform simple object into art (4).