Mt. Diablo Sunset ~ 2220 J

Anytime of the day, you can travel along J Street and enjoy a ”Marty Stanley sunset” on this large mural. Marty Stanley, a foremost painter of the Sacramento delta, was well known for his paintings of delta sunsets (1). The full title of this mural is, “Mt. Diablo Sunset as seen from Bouldin Island at the confluence of the Mokelumne and San Joaquin Rivers” (2)

The Art:

“I seldom paint the land. I always focus on the water. It’s all about clouds and reflections on the water” (3). Like this mural, Stanley’s landscapes were usually streched horizontally to convey the long Valley and winding Delta waterways (4). Sarah Rohrs calls his work a “sublime marriage of water and sky.” (5).

The Artist:

At just 19 and with no formal training, Stanley, a native of the Sacramento delta, made a decision to pursue life as an artist. In 1988, he opened the Levee Gallery in Ryde, which is on the Sacramento River about 3 miles south of Walnut Grove. Stanely’s body of work includes more than 400 original images of the Delta (6). In addition to the panoramic sunsets like this mural, his also painted much of the nature, architecture and history of the Delta region. He collaborated with Charlie Soderquist to create the book “Sturgeon Tales, Stories of the Delta.” I was saddened to learn that Stanley suffered from mental illness and in 2006 he took his own life (7). You can read more about Stanley on his website:

The Place:

Two places are important in this story: the specific place the mural captures and the Delta as a whole, where Stanley spent his life.

Stanley’s website quotes him describing the importance of growing up in the Delta to his work as an artist: “I believe it was part fate that my parents moved to Isleton when I was only three months old. I was meant to grow up here in the Delta” (8). Stanley attributes much of his stimulation and growth as an artist to the small Delta towns in which he grew up. “Little did I know then, but that atmosphere was offering me the building blocks of my young, formulating mind. It was feeding the creative side of me. It nourished me — the people, shops and restaurants were really fascinating. It was all the fabric of my life, very rich and diverse” (9).

To capture the image of this mural, Stanely stood at the confluence of the Mokelumne and San Joaquin Rivers. The Mokelumne River watershed begins in the Sierra Nevadas just south of highway 88 and flows through Lodi until it meets the San Joaquin. The name Mokelumne is from the Plains Miwok peoples. The San Joaquin River is over 365 miles long. The river starts in the high Sierras west of Fresno and releases into Suisun Bay near Pittsburg (10).

The map below shows Bouldin Island at the “A” pointer which is near the confluence of the Mokelumne and San Joaquin Rivers. Mt. Diablo is in the lower-left area of the map to the south west of Bouldin Island, and Sacramento is near the top of the map to the north.

Title: Mt. Diablo Sunset
Artist: Marty (M.C.) Stanley (
Date: 2000
Media: Paint
Location: 2220 J

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State of California Sculpture Plaza ~ 7th/8th & N/O

Who knew? Sacramento has a small but interesting sculpture terrace in a promising but seemingly under-used park that sits hidden atop the roof of a subterranean building on the square block bordered by 7th/8th and N/O Streets. Three of five original sculptures (all installed between 1978-1986) remain in the park surrounded by grassy slopes, trees, and benches.

Untitled, Egalmah Series (1984)

The sculpture above was created by Guy Dill as a part of his Egalmah series and is inspired by the shapes of the Japanese Torii gate (1). The name Egalmah comes from The Epic of Gilgamesh and means Great Temple (2).

Untitled (1978)

This painted steel piece was created by John Mason in 1978 (3). Mason is known for his “focus and steady investigation of mathematical concepts relating to rotation, symmetry, and modules” (4).

Daimaru VIII, Open Circle Series (1984)

Michael Todd created this in 1984 as part of his Open Circle Series and it is titled, Daimaru VIII (5). In Japanese, Daimaru means “large circle” (6). Another site quotes Todd describing the symbolism of the circle in this series:

In Zen brush-painting, the circle is a master’s problem. It represents everything and nothing, and in so doing, the universe. The Daimaru series in my attempt to master the problem and express my small part in the cosmos (7).

Emit Time (1986)

The online Smithsonian Institution Collection documents two other sculptures that once lived in this park but are no longer there. Emit Time was a water sculpture created by Eric Orr in 1986. The Smithsonian site describes the piece as:

two triangular bronze columns placed very close together. Water is pumped to the top and then slowly moves back down the piece in a continuous movement of water and light. The base is a rock basin which catches the running water and recirculates it. The title Emit is “Time” spelled backwards and, according to the artist, the piece alludes to the relationship between nature and water (8).

Boulder (1983)

Boulder was an abstract geometric sculpture by Bruce Johnson in 1983 and apparently you could actually step inside this piece to touch the hanging boulder (10).

A large cubic Cor-Ten steel frame with smoked tempered glass panels, tilted on its corner. Inside the frame a large granite boulder is suspended on a steel rod connected with an eye on the upper end so that the boulder swings slightly in the wind (11).

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