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About the Tour:        The Project         Why Art in Public Places?         The Process

 

The Project

Like much contemporary art, the Downtown Anaheim art can be enjoyed and interpreted in many ways. Memories of the past may be prompted by the "Orange Crates", thoughts about living in a desert and using water carefully may be prompted by the "Exchanger Fountain" and appreciation of the wonders of advanced technology may be prompted by the "Video Trees". People will experience the art as fun, challenging, delightful, confusing, annoying, silly, and wonderful--the range is infinite.

The nature of work and the passage of time are two themes, which many of the artworks share in common. Downtown Anaheim is a workplace for hundreds of people, both at the SBC Communications (formerly Pacific Bell) building and at City Hall West. In earlier days Anaheim's bank, post office, general store and other business enterprises necessary to its agricultural economy were located on Center Street. Today, the art at the corner of Center Street Promenade and Clementine Street uses imagery that refers to hard work, ("Hammer Clock" and "Anvil and Nails"), to Anaheim's history ("Orange Crates") and to current work habits which are more mental than physical ("Knowse to the Stone"). The Nursery Planter Boxes that are placed along the street are reminiscent of the nursery and agricultural industries. The four "Video Trees" make clear what kind of work goes on behind the glass facades of the buildings on Center Street Promenade. Traffic information is analyzed by Traffic Engineering and used to regulate signals and alert police about congested areas. The public is invited to share with city traffic engineers the information they use in doing their jobs.

The "Sinking Canoe", situated just within the City Hall West Parking Structure, cites an early form of transportation, used by the Gabrielino Indians in the Santa Ana River and other nearby bodies of water. Other references to this region's earliest inhabitants include the "Coyote Bench" and a series of planters modeled after Gabrielino baskets. The passage of time is announced by "Hammer Clock," a functional element recalling streetside clocks found typically on a Main Street. Its clockface is a map of the world, locating Anaheim in a global setting. The "Video Trees" show actual freeway conditions and provide public meeting information to those who pass by. Real bits and pieces of Anaheim have been incorporated in the Anaheim benches. Fragments of tile, bricks, mortar, cement and other materials were gathered along Center Street Promenade by Buster Simpson, taken to his studio in Seattle and incorporated into the bench standards that provide seating along the street.

The original boundary of Anaheim was marked by willow trees, whose great appetite for water soon imperiled the colony's precious water supply. Water runoff from the "Exchanger Fountain" falls into a tree well where a willow branch has been planted. The fountain has found a use for water that might otherwise be wasted. Water to the fountain is brought up along a spiraling copper pipe, which is naturally cooled by the evaporation of the runoff water. The fountain, together with many Anaheim benches, sit in front of the building housing City Hall West, making their reuse and conservation of materials and natural resources particularly appropriate.

Installed at the western entrance of the City Hall West parking structure is a social gathering place designed by Buster Simpson that memorializes early commerce in Anaheim, and provides amenities for the adjacent café.

The art in Downtown Anaheim plays a significant role in helping create a unique sense of place. It offers individuality and local history in striking contrast to most development projects, which so often seem interchangeable with one another. It is likely the art along these two city blocks, and its neighboring areas will prompt strong associations and memories for visitors and workers. Hopefully, the art will play a small part in contributing to pride in Anaheim, in its ability to move forward, to build upon its past and to use creative solutions to address the complex issues now facing us.

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Why Public Art

Our ideas about places are usually images of them. We take a mental picture to remember: we see the Eiffel tower and think of Paris; New York is the Statue of Liberty; Washington D.C. is the Washington Monument. Sometimes we remember certain streets, parks or styles of architecture. Creating a sense of place that is special enough to be remembered is no easy task. From such ancient cultures as the Greeks, Mayans, Egyptians and Chinese to more recent Societies, great effort has been devoted to the image of cities and towns. Public spaces, which were enhanced by great architecture and art, expressed meaning about society's history, purpose and ideals. Today the renewed effort to make public spaces memorable has brought artists back into the picture, giving them challenges to add diversity and richness to our built environment.

The purpose of architecture is easily understood - it provides shelter. The purpose of art is less functional. Art adds a layer of visual information that can tell a story, intrigue and delight the eye and cause the mind to pause. Where buildings can dwarf us with sheer size, art can offer a scale that makes public spaces more inviting. Art in public places can introduce humor whereas buildings usually maintain a solemn face. Because art is subject to personal interpretation more than architecture, it frequently creates controversy. Petitions circulated in 19th century Paris to halt the Eiffel Tower. Construction was stopped on the Washington Monument for twenty-five years until arguments about its merits were settled. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial faced extensive opposition, yet today it is by far the most visited site in the nation's capital.

The challenge to create public spaces that are unique, that represent a community's history, spirit or aspirations is difficult. Art has played a critical role throughout history in making places special. Today, as one city blurs into another, and one development looks so much like another, the ability for art to help create memorable spaces is needed as much as ever.

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The Process

Art in Public Places in Downtown Anaheim (formerly Anaheim Center) is the result of more than the efforts of the very talented artists who created the art. Prior to the creation of the artwalk along Center Street Promenade and Center Street, Lloyd Hamrol's "City Terrace" was installed, enhancing the City Hall landscape. Architectural attractions- the Carnegie Library, Disney ICE, and Millard C. Sheets' mosaic mural - all contributed historic charm to the environment.

The Art in Public Places process began with the appointment of a broadbased arts advisory committee whose charge was to help develop, review and recommend an overall art plan; approve selection of an expert jury which would advise on the plan and recommend artists; approve the selection of artists; and approve the design for the art.

Serving on the arts advisory committee were both property owners and community representatives. Committee members included designees from the Koll Company, Pacific Bell, Redevelopment Commission, Central City Neighborhood Council, Anaheim Museum, Anaheim Arts Council, and Anaheim Arts Council art in public places committee.

Approximately 100 artists with expertise in public art were invited by the expert jury to submit slides demonstrating the quality and scope of their work. Fifty artists responded and, based on their submissions, the expert jury recommended three artists to create and carry out the art plan. Those approved by the Arts Advisory Committee were Daniel Martinez, Nobuho Nagasawa and Buster Simpson.

The original project was funded through a public/private "Percent for Art" partnership. The total cost of approximately $450,000 was shared equally by the major participants in the downtown development and includes no money from the City's general fund. Pacific Bell and Meyer Development provided funding for the project, while the City's share was allocated from funds earmarked for construction of City Hall West. Additional artworks added include the Interactive Fountain, Veteran's Monument and Plaza, and coming soon art banners at the Downtown Community Center.

The process which has resulted in Art in Public Places in Downtown Anaheim sets a standard for creating future projects to explore Anaheim's rich heritage and its impacts on the City as we know it today as well as the Anaheim of tomorrow.

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