18′ tall Jumperman looks poised to take flight from the entrance of classical modern design building at 600 Q that was once the Dunn Edwards Paint Store (1). The metal sculpture was created by Michael Riegel in 2003 (2).
Riegel has a series of sculptures of similar human figures (3). He has also worked with metals to create mechanical toys and functional tools including sewing scissors at the Smithsonian American Art Museum he created from forged and annealed carbon steel stock: “The curved handles show his interest in Japanese weapons and armor from the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries” (4).
Originally built in 1966, the building at 600 Q was redeveloped in 2003 now houses Nacht & Lewis Architects (5). The redevelopment team sought to maintain the classic modern design while transforming it into a dynamic building.
Respecting the strengths and character of the original building, the design team sought to inject a new image and vitality to the structure. Previously painted concrete block was sandblasted and left exposed for its rich natural color and texture. Exterior pilasters at the two-story glass storefronts were painted purple to accentuate their rhythm. Perforated steel plate guardrails painted bright yellow and a metal sculpture enliven the corner entry to the building. Finally, LED lighting was introduced behind a refurbished exterior signage band to illuminate the north and west facades and the streets below.(6)
Several public art pieces by Riegel can be found around the Sacramento area including:
Where are we going?
What have we wrought?
How are we loving?
What have we thought?
These questions, carved in stone and almost hidden under a cascade of water, are posed by Stephen Kaltenbach on his fountain sculpture at the Sacramento Convention Center called, Time to Cast Away Stones. In my image below, you can just begin to make out the carved letters underneath the flow of water, but you can find some wonderful photos of the fountain that reveal the carved letters of the questions quite clearly on Jenny Arnez’s blog post.
Time to Cast Away Stones consists of two rectangular sculptured stone fountains, separated by a walkway and running lengthwise along the center divider of 13th Street at the entrance to the Sacramento Convention Center. The sculptures evoke Greek or Roman ruins and you can find many interesting images within the seeming jumble of stone.
Kaltenbach graduated from UCD, lived in New York where he was part of the avant-garde scene there in the late 1960s, and then moved to Sacramento to teach art at CSUS from 1970-2005 (1).
In an article titled, “Altered Ego: Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer on Stephen Kaltenbach,” the author describes some of the most interesting aspects of Kaltenbach’s uniqueness as an artist:
Kaltenbach followed what he called a protocol of opposites: Whenever he identified a structurally embedded social pattern of behavior among his artist peers, he would do the opposite….Against the idea that artists should exhibit only in galleries and museums, he committed “Street Works” in public, often unannounced, using graffiti stamps, stencils, sidewalk plaques, and disguises. (2)
Going against the grain of the art scene of keeping artistic ideas to one’s self, Kaltenbach intentionally sought to keep his creativity open and looked for opportunities to share artistic possibility with others (3). He called this spreading of influence Casual Art, and Teach Art was one element of the Casual Art principle that his role at CSUS gave him a platform to embody (4).
From November 1968 and December 1969, Kaltenbach anonymously placed twelve full-page ads, which he referred to as ‘micro-manifestos’ in Artforum. The ads consisted of mostly white-space with a few words in plain type-face text centered on the page. You can see an example of one called, “Become a legend,” in the lower right corner of this image. The twelve micro-manifestos (5):
ART WORKS. (Nov 1968)
JOHNNY APPLESEED. (Dec 1968)
ART. (Jan 1969)
Tell a lie. (Feb 1969)
Start a rumor. (March 1969)
Perpetrate a hoax. (April 1969)
Build a reputation. (May 1969)
Become a legend. (Summer 1969)
Teach Art. (Sept 1969)
Smoke. (Oct 1969)
Trip. (Nov 1969)
You are me. (Dec 1969)
“These ads are word-works that specifically targeted the Artforum audience and effectively participated in the conceptualist project to multiply doubt, but they also evidence Kaltenbach’s heightening ironic self-objectification.” (7)
Since his move from New York, his public pieces became more populist in a move that could draw criticism from the conceptual art world (8). Even as he created more realist and decorative pieces, his conceptual work continued, and as this quote describes, the strangeness of his living in both the populist and conceptual worlds is just another element of his artistic uniqueness:
“Only a playful ease with unease can yield pleasure and possibly reveal the complexity of an artist whose work is elusive on principle” (9).
Three other public art pieces by Kaltenbach can be found in Sacramento (10):
“Brazen” (1992), California State University, Sacramento
The Crocker Art Museum’s permanent collection is home to an extraordinary painting by Kaltenbach. “Portrait of My Father” is a photo-realistic painting with a scrim effect that brings an ethereal quality that “gives a little barrier between you and the subject, and the chromatic spectrum makes you think about things that are unseen but there” (11).
The Crocker describes the work as a “testament to life, love, and the loss confronting us all.” (12). In the seven years he worked with this painting, he experienced personal transformation through grief of his father’s death and dark psychedelic trips to finding faith and becoming a Christian (13).
On her blog, Jenny Arnez describes how the title of this piece reminds her of a biblical quote and the affect it had on her:
“Time to Castaway Stones” brings to mind Ecclesiastes 3:5. The New King James version says, “A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” The sculpture causes me to think and question not only our society’s actions but my own daily choices as well.(14)
Although I’m not familiar with the biblical reference, I had a similar experience in terms of reflecting on the four questions Kaltenbach poses for us:
Where are we going?
What have we wrought?
How are we loving?
What have we thought?
Title: Time to Cast Away Stones
Artist: Stephen J. Kaltenbach (www.stephenkaltenbach.com)
Media: Cast Cement
Location: Sacramento Convention Center, 13th & K
In blue, purple, green, and yellow, the intricate mural outside Shine cafe can keep a careful viewer occupied for a long while. It’s called, Ancient Futurism and is the work of local artist Shaun Burner (1).
The mural invites us to get up close and find some of the many mini-images that are integrated into the larger whole:
He is part of a group called, Trust Your Struggle, which “is a collective of visual artists, educators, and cultural workers dedicated to social justice and community activism through the medium of art.”
Shine cafe opened in August 2010 in the recently re-developed Shine Building in Mansion Flats neighborhood (2). Other businesses in the building include Penleigh, a child-development center and preschool, and Yoga Seed Collective, a non-profit yoga studio (3). Shine cafe serves local food, fair-trade coffee, local art, and live music in a comfortable, living-room like atmosphere.
Burner completed Ancient Futurism in a couple of hours (4). Submerge Magazine quotes the artist talking about his painting process:
For me, this is meditation. It’s my tai chi. It’s a metaphor for life. Do the best you can with whatever you do. Don’t reflect on the past too much or worry about the future, but be present in this moment that is continually happening, and own that shit.(5)
Title: Ancient Futurism
Artist: Shaun Burner
Location: 1400 E Street
A mural of the Sacramento skyline with evening stars and a bright moon welcomes customers entering the local printing business, J. Prassa Printers. The mural was painted by William Boddy in 2004 (1).
Boddy had his studio in Sacramento for some years and painted numerous murals around town including: the lobby of Cal Farm Insurance, a skating rink, and a dive shop (2). Boddy now resides in Salida Colorado.
J. Prassa has been a local Sacramento business for 30 years. They use sustainable practices including using only soy based inks and their paper stock includes 100% Post-Consumer Waste paper (3).
Artist: William Boddy (www.williamboddy.com)
Location: 2316 C Strett
A 400 foot aerial map wrapped around the side of the Alhambra Reservoir creates an image of the water-flow drawn from our rivers and wetlands into the reservoir then delivered from there to our communities. Michael Bishop, a Fulbright scholar and art professor at Chico State, created this piece which was installed in 2005 (1, 2).
The water map appears a burnished gold during the day, and a night 2,000 feet of blue LEDs illuminate and animate the map. The dark spots in the LEDs that need repair detract from the effect, but it is still fun to watch the blue circle of the reservoir empty and fill every few seconds, simulating the daily water draw and re-supply (3):
The polyhedron-shaped reservoir was built in 1937 and holds 3 million gallons of water (4). The bottom 100 feet of the structure was previously home to a blood bank but now is home to the special operations and training facility of the Sacramento Fire Department (5). During World War II, the entire reservoir was painted in camouflage symbolizing the fighting abroad (6).
I was taken by how the water tower actually functions and at the same time, the urban history and urban myth surrounding it. It was painted in camouflage during the war, and still called the blood tank by locals from the days when the blood bank offices were downstairs. I was also interested in the tower as a symbolic contrast of organic space versus human made space – Jeffersonian grid meets American river. Maybe it boils down to the notion that I am not the believer in western narrative that I once was. It may seem odd, but to me, the work today is distilled and poignant, like focusing on an expansive horizon and realizing after awhile you are not spacing out, but taking it all in.
The 12-foot-tall, 350 lb concrete vessels decorating the top of the tank are a complement to the relief that appears above the main entrance (photo below). Stored inside the vessels are drawings and letters from local schoolchildren inspired by their lessons on the water tower (7).
Researching this piece, I ran across several photos of scooters parked in front of the reservoir. They are playing Scooter Tag, a game where riders take a picture of their scooter in a local spot (without identifying where) and other people have to figure out where the location is and then take a picture of their scooter in the same spot (8).
Title: The Alhambra Project
Artist: Michael Bishop (www.mbishopsculpture.com)
Media: LED, Aluminum, Steel, Cast Vessels
Location: 3230 J St
Sacramentans are gardening, biking, walking to work, restoring Victorian homes, and playing with pets and kids on the mural that graces the CADA Maintenance Office at 701 S Street. The figures in the mural are surrounded by trees and Golden poppies (the California state flower), and all of this is overlayed on a colorful grid map of downtown streets.
While Lacin and Chrisophel painted the mural, they met community members who came to watch the process unfold (1). On their blog, the artists describe the concept of the mural as:
a map of Sacramento that’s being brought to life with illustrations. The shadow of a hand on the leftmost section suggests the presence of the individual showing the influence one person can have, and the power of imagination. (2)
Capitol Area Development Authority (CADA) is an urban development and management company that functions as a self-supporting public agency seeking to build a fiscally, socially and environmentally sustainable neighborhood around Capital Park; which is loosely defined as bounded by L, S, 7th and 19th Streets (3). The organization’s tag line is:
CADA is committed to building a sustainable Capitol Park neighborhood that captivates city dwellers and inspires the people of California.
The current work-in-progress for Lacin and Chrisophel is a 4-million gallon concrete water tank in Davis. The tank is about 135′ in diameter and 32′ high which equates to a square footage of 13,568 of blank canvas (click to see photo)! The artists post updated photos on their blog and plan to have live streaming video as well.
My favorite from their portfolio (both visually and because of the story behind it) is the mural they created pro bono for Volunteers of America Bannon Street Shelter; a shelter for families who are homeless. The mural is 35’x7′, covers the wall of the dining area, and faces the toddler’s play area (4).
Lacin and Chrisophel focused on inspiring the children when they designed the 4-panel mural. In this KCRA news video, the artists describe how each panel communicates a particular image for the children. The first panel is a garden scene about growth and health; the second is an education image; the third is a playground image about cooperation, friendship, and acceptance; and the fourth image is about individual inspiration and possibility.
In the video, the director of the shelter explains how the children at the shelter are often in a very uncertain and unstable time in their lives, and the images from the mural offer much needed help to “bring the children to the point of possibility in their lives” (5).
On their blog post for the CADA mural, the artists share a sentiment that is very connected to the heart of my motivation for exploring and blogging about public art in Sacramento:
“We believe in the transformative power of public art and hope that our piece will further develop the neighborhood’s identity.” (6)
Part 4 is the final post in the Midtown Mosaic series and focuses on several more sections of this expansive mural which includes the work of more than 60 artists. The project was conceived and coordinated by Sacramento’s Midtown Alley Project (MAP).
If you missed them, be sure to start with part 1, part 2, and part 3 of the Midtown Mosaic series.
One of my favorite pieces in the mural. This one is by Jeff Musser, who has another, similar piece in part 1 of this mural series. In this video by Russ Andris, Musser tells the story of the woman in this image, Jessica, and discusses the symbolism of the white roses. (www.jeffmusser.com)
MAP honors Clare Bailey as the Guardian Angel of this mural for her efforts with coordination, support, and painting. Bailey is a galley artist and, Sacramento columnist, Bill Shallit, quotes Bailey’s dream of midtown public art where she “envisions a day when visitors can walk through midtown with headphones — like those available at museums — listening to art commentary on various midtown sites.” (1).
According to a recent Sacramento Press article, Claire’s dream is coming alive:
By early June, residents will be able to take walking tours of this growing outdoor gallery, thanks to tour maps being printed and posted online as part of the Midtown Alley Project (MAP) (2)
Keep your eye on Midtown Alley Project. The Sacramento Press article lists at least 5 more pieces that have gone in since Midtown Mosaic and more are to come: “Owners of at least three other properties are now talking with the MAP crew about adding public art at their spaces” (3)
Title: Midtown Mosaic
Artist: 60+ different artists coordinated by Midtown Alley Project
Location: Alley between K and L on 23rd Street
Update 7/2012: The steel doors and windows have been removed as part of construction happening on the building in what looks to be preparation for opening another bar here.
The lone bar near the railroad tracks at 19th & Q, Whiskey Wild, has been vacant and boarded up for years now. Driving by one day, I recognized the metalwork on the doors and windows as the work of Keith Peschel, who created the steel door series called, Under the Microscope, at a parking structure downtown.
This building was home to Peschel’s art before Whiskey Wild took it over, and his website includes good photos of the metalwork in its early (pre-graffiti) days; rockandiron.zenfolio.com/exteriors (see photos 23-25).
Artist: Keith Peschel
Location: 1910 Q St
Part 3 of the Midtown Mosaic series focuses on several more sections of this expansive mural which includes the work of more than 60 artists. The project was conceived and coordinated by Sacramento’s Midtown Alley Project (MAP).
If you missed it, be sure to start with part 1 and part 2 of the Midtown Mosaic series.
Click on any photo to see a larger image.
In the center of MAP’s Midtown Mosaic mural is a map of a several block area in midtown. Ironically, I have yet to discover the artist for this central piece in the mural.
Sacramento theater icon, The Crest, was painted by Allison Carlos. For nearly 100 years, the building that is home to the Crest has housed several theaters; starting as the Empress in 1912, then the Hippodrome, and finally opening as The Crest in 1949 (1). (allisoncarlos.com)
This image has a great story behind it. In the early stages of the mural, as the graphic outline of the mosaic took shape along the wall, Sister Anne Sekul, from the group of nuns living in a house near-by, came over to learn about the project.She ended up contributing as an artist by painting the angelic looking portrait.
Part 2 of the Midtown Mosaic series focuses on several more sections of this expansive mural which includes the work of more than 60 artists. The project was conceived and coordinated by Sacramento’s Midtown Alley Project (MAP).