Fremont Community Gardens ~ 14th & Q

Several artists’ works are integrated into Fremont Community Gardens at 14th & Q. The garden is part of the City Parks & Recreation program; the 52 plots are ‘rented’ to members of the community (1), and gardeners practice sustainable organic gardening. There are twenty eight small plots (10×10), twenty large (10×20) and four ADA raised plots (2). The garden art includes a gazebo, a windmill, a tiled entrance walk, and tomato and carrot sculptures doubling as bike racks.

The site of Fremont Community Garden has an interesting history…

It was originally home to the Ron Mandella Community Garden (3). This state-owned, undeveloped land was zoned for housing, but it had been used as a community garden for 30 years and was “a central gathering point for gardeners, residents, children and state workers on their lunch hour” (4). In 2001, Capitol Area Development Authority (CADA) announced that the garden land was to be reclaimed by the state and developed into residential use (5):

[This] became a difficult time for the entire community. This pitted those who wanted to keep the site as a garden against those who wanted it developed into housing. In 2002, CADA and the State Department of General Services committed to retain 100% of the community garden square footage. This was accomplished by acquiring a half city block near Southside Park. The land was developed for the new Southside Community Garden located at 5th and W Streets. This garden represented two-thirds of the original Mandella Garden space. Concurrently, CADA and the State set aside one third of the Mandella site to continue as a community garden, now called the Fremont Community Garden. (6)

Soil testing showed toxins in the soil which needed to be removed (7). A California EPA grant was used to remove 24 inches of soil from the entire garden for a total of about $450,000 (8). The soil near the roots of the walnut trees could not be cleaned, and so this area is now used for two bocce ball courts (9).

According to an article on the garden by Anne Hart, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, who is a former Charles Manson follower, and the man who pointed a gun at president Gerald Ford in 1975, was a community gardener at the Ron Mandella Community Garden in the 1970s (10).

Now back to the public art…

The steel and glass gazebo called “Bell Pagoda” was created by Chico artists, Patrick Collentine and Susan Larsen (11, 12):

The artists have explored the bell curve form in other works, and in this installation, the pagoda is referred to as a tribute to Sacramento’s Asian history, particularly because the area of Fremont Gardens was once Japantown (13).

Collentine and Larsen are CSU Chico alums and prolific public artists (14, 15, 16). They have a radio show on KZFR called Sonic View where you can “listen to the sounds of poets, artists, and music experimenters, from the 20th Century sound pioneers to the voices and visions of contemporary artists.” (17).

The gazebo has a solar powered neon light structure (18). I’ve driven by at night but have yet to catch it when it is lit.

In another project or theirs, Collentine and Larsen take photos in different locations with a 6-foot-tall photographer’s color bar; this project is called kolorbar and you can see some of the photos of the bar with Cristo’s Gates , in the redwoods, and at Burning Man under a double rainbow. Their main webiste appears to be, and this neon art website, Tesla Neon, seems to be associated with the two artists as well.

Larry Meeks created the carrot and tomato sculptures (19). These funky vegetables function as bike racks. Two carrots and a tomato sit along the grass outside the garden and a pair of each are inside the garden.

Meeks’ website contains a photo gallery of some of his works. He primarily works in metal (steel, brass, bronze and copper) and indigenous river stone (20). The site describes his artwork as flowing “from natural settings and many times reaches the edge of surrealism. He believes that art should make a bold statement and evoke the inner emotion of the viewer” (21).

Meeks public art work can be found around Sacramento including the willowy gates to the inner courtyard of the Shepard Garden and Arts Center in McKinley Park, and the steel trellises at the World Peace Rose Garden in Capital Park (22). Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission lists 6 pieces by Meeks in their online Art in Public Places Collection. The rain collecting lady bug is a must see.

Meeks is quite active outside of his art (23). He is a syndicated columnist who has written a column called, Ethnically Speaking, since 1991. The site lists Meeks as a pastor of a church, but I was unable to locate a church website for more details (24).

The windmill and the tiled entrance walk were created by Numan Begovic (25). The windmill looks like it will soon be draped by the vine growing on up its wooden structure.

Fall leaves blocked my view, but Sac Metro Arts has a nice photo of the tiled entrance Begovic created for the gardens, which is called “Spirit of the Garden”. They also have a nice photo of the windmill, which is called, “Spirit of the Garden II”. Begovic has numerous other works around Sacramento, Sac Metro Arts lists 9 public art works by him.

Begovic and his wife, Yasmina, were choosen for Sacramento & Co’s “Get Inspired” series for November 18, 2010. The video interview tells some about his history and art. He emmigrated from Bosnia and his art is in numerious mediums including stone, metal, ceramic, and wood. He incorporates memories of his life as symbols within his art (26).

The interviewer asks Begovic why art in public places is important, and he replies, “I think everyone needs art” (27).

Title: Fremont Community Garden
Artist: Numan Begovic, Larry Meeks, and Patrick Collentine & Susan Larsen
Date: 2007?
Media: Metal, wood, ceramic
Location: 14th & Q

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(1) Fremont Garden google group
(2) Fremont Garden google group
(3) Examiner article
(4) CADA project list
(5) CADA project list
(6) CADA project list
(7) CADA project list
(8) Examiner article
(9) Examiner article
(10) Examiner article
(11) Sac Metro Arts newsletter
(12) Chico News & Review article
(13) Chico News & Review article
(14) CSU Chico Humanities newsletter pdf
(15) Chico News & Review article
(16) Chico News & Review article
(18) Tesla Neon
(19) Sac Metro Arts – Art Tour PDF
(22) Sacramento Magazine Best Of
(23) profile
(24) profile
(25) Sac Metro Arts – Art Tour PDF
(26) Sacramento & Co Get Inspired Video
(27) Sacramento & Co Get Inspired Video

Metamorphosis Mural ~ 4th & K

The Metamorphosis mural was created by Centro de Artistas Chicanos and is located on the eastern façade of the Downtown Plaza parking lot at 3rd & L. The mural was a collaborative effort by artists Juanishi Orosco, Stan Pidilla, Esteban Villa and others in the Centro de Artistas Chicano (1).

Each section of Metamorphosis represents a layer of energy. I assume each of the four sections of this mural measure 6’x62′; the same measurements as the “sister” mural installed on the opposite side of the parking lot called, The Way Home.

The bottom section of Metamorphosis represents the core of life (2). The central image of this section is an elder man sitting deep in the earth surrounded by crystals and holding a glowing inner flame (also, notice the hand prints on the stone arch above him):

The next section of the mural represents the energy of the earth (3), and this turtle swims along the left edge of the section:

The right edge of the earth section is an image called the Sacred Circle: (4)

The lower left figures in the image are the Guardians of the Sacred Circle and here is a detail of the guardians as the painting was being created:

Guardians of the Sacred Circle, California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives, Dept of Special Collections

The third section of the mural represents technology, innovation, and impact on the earth, and the top layer represents the heavens and universe (5). Russ Andris has a photo gallery with good detail images of those sections here and here.

The central image of the mural is a Tiger Swallowtail butterfly representing change and renewal of life (6). In the center of the center of the mural is this powerful figure flanked by drummers:

Here is a wonderful detail of the figure’s face from the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives, Dept of Special Collections:

California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives, Dept of Special Collections

The Centro de Artistas Chicano was created in 1972 by the Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF), which is an art collective based here in Sacramento, California. I’ll write a dedicated post about the RCAF in the coming weeks, but here is a small introduction.

The RCAF is best known for its mural paintings, poster art production, and individual artistic contributions. The artists of the Centro have produced murals and exhibitions from San Diego to Seattle. RCAF is significant as a collective that has maintained a forty year history of engaging communities to express their Chicano culture, history and struggle for equal rights (7).

In an KVIE interview with several members of RCAF, Stan Padilla describes how the Metamorphosis mural was seen as a departure from the tradition of Chicano muralists that painted primarily political, economic, and social themes. He explains that Metamorphosis is a “human mural” and tells a story about a beautiful moment that occurred on the day they finished the mural.

[The mural] was very controversial at the time, not only from the arts people but from our own people saying, “Where are all the power fists? Where are all the huelga birds? We’re not used to this new kind of art. This does not seem to be a Chicano mural.” Well we said we believe this to be a human mural. I remember the day we finished the mural, when we finished the big butterfly, that there was an actual Tiger Swallowtail butterfly that flew from the top of Macy’s building and it flew right to the center of the painted butterfly. It almost genuflected, it paused there, and then it flew away. We all watched it. And we knew we had completed it. And it was confirmed what we had done (8).

Title: Metamorphosis
Artist: Juanishi Orosco, Stan Pidilla, Esteban Villa and The Centro de Artistas Chicano (9)
Date: 1980
Media: Airbrushed and brushwork on concrete (10)
Location: Eastern façade of the parking garage on Third and L Streets

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INK Bench ~ 2730 N

This elaborate bench was created by Matthew Byrd and sits outside the front door of INK Eats & Drinks.


Byrd is a Sacramento mixed media artist who works in metal, wood, paint, and more (1). He has a Flickr gallery with photos of some of his painting/sculptures and in the photos you can see how he brings in 3-dimensional aspects to his paintings. Here is a photo of the artist with some of his other works.


Turns out I’d already seen some of Byrd’s work last fall when he had a show at The Urban Hive. The Urban Hive is a co-working community here in Sac and I was working there at the time. A number of Byrd’s paintings were hung along the large brick wall.


The metal sculpted flower in the photo above is one of my favorite elements of the bench. I also like the array of colorfully painted images sculpted into the back.


The overall effect is very cool, and there are many smaller details to notice. Like this ship…


The Koi fish and the eye just above it….


Pac Man, blazing heart, checkered flag…


Cherries, knife, sun, star….




The star on the arm rest…


And this random wrench….


The bench fits perfectly with INK’s style and energy, and creates a bright, colorful spot on the corner of the block.


Title: (unknown)
Artist: Matthew Byrd
Date: 2010
Media: Metal, Paint
Location: Ink Eats & Drinks, 2730 N Street

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