Sunday, June 13, 2010

Art in Antioch, part 1

I'm going to try adding a new feature to this blog: Public art that I see on my bike rides in East County, particularly Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood and Pittsburg.

When Tricia and I rode past the new sculpture at the corner of Rockspring and Mt. Hamilton in Antioch, I swear I thought Antioch had at last embraced a Dr. Seuss world view. The piece, by artist Robert Ellison, is both monumental and whimsical. It twists like the wind is about to take it down, and looks like... well, it looks exactly how it looks. If you don't smile, or even laugh, when you see it you're just missing out on life somehow.

As with much of the public art in Antioch, the problem isn't the art as much as it is Antioch. As fun as the piece is, it's dwarfed by the surrounding homes and light poles. I can't help but think how much more interesting this piece would be in a less crowded environment. Maybe it says something about Antioch that the largest pieces of public sculpture in the area are traffic lights. We're so used to them we don't see them, but they are amazingly large cantilevered light-emitting, sway-in-the-wind, big-dollar public monuments. This little piece has a hard time competing.

Judging from the newspaper web site comments, this piece seem to be confounding the citizenry of Antioch much as the delightful Sprint Poles befuddled the city of Concord a few years ago. I always fear we'll only get the art we deserve. I'm hoping this shows that isn't always true. This work is a step up from a lot of the trite, predictable pieces we have elsewhere in the city. I hope it's a trend.

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