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2 Sculptures: Fountainheads of Conversation

Update: Main Street sculptures are the first public-private partnership seeding public art.

Update: Added a photo of the sculpture in front of Wells Fargo, and another photo of 'Fountain Head' in front of Mechanics Bank on North Main Street.

Two sculptures are sculpting the landscape of North Main Street.

The two new sculptures are causing a bit of a downtown buzz. Pictured here is a cable TV cameraman finding out what the buzz is about as Bay Area sculptor Seyed Alavi's "Fountain Head" is installed at the Mechanics Bank on North Main Street. It's a head coming out of a fountain. Another sculpture by Wowhaus (Ene Osteraas-Constable and Scott Constable of Sebastopol) has been installed at the Wells Fargo Bank on Main Street. It's called 'Geologica' and looks like a geode. It replaces a fountain that the Contra Costa Times called an eyesore.
 
This is the first public-private partnership organized to encourage public art; it uses city public art in-lieu fees collected from developers to improve city property downtown. The two Main Street sculptures together became the Downtown Fountains Project with a budget of $90,000 — $60,000 from the in-lieu public art fund and a $30,000 contribution collectively from the Walnut Creek Downtown Business Association, Wells Fargo and Mechanics Bank, according to a report by the Walnut Creek Arts, Recreation and Community Services Department.

The sculptors were the choice of a Downtown Fountain Project Selection Panel, which was approved by the Walnut Creek Arts Commission.

The "Fountain Head" moved Patch reader to take a photo of another head sculpture that graces Renaissance Club Sports.

 Who has eyeballed the sculptures and pronounces artistic judgement — in the Comment section below?

Triple Canopy June 29, 2012 at 12:33 AM
That one is kind of creepy....
Michael O'Connor June 29, 2012 at 03:22 AM
if it's creating a Buzz why is there only one response on the Patch.........just saying
Lance Howland (Editor) June 29, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Michael: You caught me. Editor's license. I was thinking there would be a buzz. Piece seems provocative to me. -- Lance Howland, editor, Walnut Creek Patch
Creek Diva June 29, 2012 at 03:49 AM
I'm all for public art... but I find this odd. I'll have to check it out in person. I'm afraid this will be a target for vandals.
Frank Perkins June 29, 2012 at 03:57 AM
An amazing waste of taxpayer dollars. Amazing.
Bob Brittain June 29, 2012 at 03:59 AM
I don't think that the number of comments on Patch are the sole determinator of the level of "Buzz" about a given issue. I suppose that most people would rather observe the fountains in person before making a judgement.
Suzy Inman June 29, 2012 at 04:22 AM
An amazing waste of taxpayer dollars. Amazing. Ditto!! YUK!!
SR June 29, 2012 at 05:20 AM
I've observed it and it's UGLY. I couldn't agree more on the waste of taxpayer dollars comment. We have infrastructure needs, pool needs, public safety needs and tens of thousands of dollars are spent on a golden shower foundation. And please hold the "tax dollars weren't used for this project" comments. In addition to the wasted public art funds the city gives tax dollars to the downtown business association which in turn spends them on stuff like this.
Jame Brower June 29, 2012 at 05:20 PM
The Fountain by Wells Fargo banks seems to me something from the 1980s. Lacks color or shine.
Creek Diva June 29, 2012 at 06:36 PM
@T Ball, you mean the mosaic fountain? I think that re-do is beautiful!
Marcie June 29, 2012 at 09:45 PM
NOT tax dollars. Read the information. Funding comes from the in-lieu public art fund. City ordinance #1973 stipulates that "one percent of construction costs of a major project that involves new or alteration of a city facility or non-residential building shall be set aside for the inclusion of public art." Walnut Creek is fortunate to have a stunning and varied amount of public art. Take a tour with the Bedford Gallery. Art is not about pretty pictures, if it challenges you it is successful.
Lance Howland (Editor) June 29, 2012 at 11:39 PM
T ball. I disagree. I just posted a photo of that fountain sculpture. I thought briefly of shooting a closeup of the colorful tiles in the base/pedestal of the fountain, but then I thought, 'naaaaah.' But reading your comment now, I should have. -- Lance Howland, editor, Walnut Creek Patch
Elizabeth June 30, 2012 at 12:17 AM
I totally agree with you. It is extremely under whelming, and 1980's looking!
Elizabeth June 30, 2012 at 12:19 AM
I think it is creepy/cool. It is totally unexpected, and that is what makes it kind of cool. I sure hope it isn't a target for vandals.
SR June 30, 2012 at 04:07 AM
YES tax dollars. While some of the money comes from in-lieu park funds other money came from the Downtown Business Association (DBA). Where do you think they go when they need money? That's right-the city general fund! In other words it's a sneaky way to get tax money to help foot the bill for a project many people would otherwise not support. After all, don’t we keep hearing about how the city has financial issues? I have taken a tour of the Bedford Gallery BTW. It should be free since my tax dollars are spending $350 thousand a year to fund the place. While the city needs an art gallery instead of it being privately owned amazes me to this day. How many city employees are we paying 100k to run it again? The budgetary smoke and mirrors get deeper with the fountains and the Bedford since the costs of maintenance, upkeep, sweeping the floors, keeping the lights on etc are conveniently accounted for in separate budgets so it appears things cost less to taxpayers than they actually do. Maybe we can add a tip jar on golden man's forehead to help cover costs so we can fix Larkey pool a little quicker!
Lance Howland (Editor) June 30, 2012 at 07:10 PM
All right, Michael, will you concede now that there's a buzz?-- 15 comments here and 18 comments on Walnut Creek Patch's Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/WalnutCreekPatch -- Lance Howland, editor, Walnut Creek Patch
Maria June 30, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Have not seen this in person so no comment yet. However, did see the one by WFB and love it!
Triple Canopy June 30, 2012 at 09:22 PM
You are totally wrong SR. You too Frank Perkins. The public art fee is assessed on the valuation of new development and IS NOT PART of the general fund. Developers can also choose to install public art within their projects if they choose to do so. Others simply pay the fee. Public art fees are restricted. Meaning, it cannot be used to pay for operating costs (salaries) or capital improvements (like swimming pools)... only towards the commissioning and placement of public art. And the DBA is a private organization who donated funds towards the projects. They can do as they please so long as it benefits its membership.
SR June 30, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Triple. You are not only wrong you did not read my post. The DBA may be a private organization but when they want something done who do you think pays? The provide advocacy and administration. Do you think they have the money for all the decorative lighting downtown that was one of their (our) $60,000 projects? Just one example. When the DBA wants something done they go to the city who often foots a lion's share of the bill. They essentially tell the city where to spend money downtown on projects that directly benefit DBA members.
Bob Brittain June 30, 2012 at 11:42 PM
I believe that TC wins this point SR.
michael frederick July 01, 2012 at 07:46 AM
We're looking at these two monumental works, while Simmons and Skrel are conducting secretive meetings of THEIR commission -- populated by BRE, the Chamber of Commerce, and their WALPAC sympathizers -- to sell building the snot out of 1/2 of downtown for SHORTLY-needed campaign funding!!! On the city's website you can find the next meeting for the Shadelands specific plan but NOT for "WEST DOWNTOWN'S"?!!? This works nicely for those whose only sense is "I like Bob" or "I like Gary" or "my commission appointment hinges on promoting them." It's probably less attractive for those who "like Walnut Creek" or "decent government." What's alarming is that neither Patch nor The Times covers it. On the statuary, personally, I like the fact the Mechanic's Bank Fountain doesn't require an art tour to recognize, unlike so much of this city's "art." The gemologists' dream is nice but, it is small / intimate. Being of ceramic tile, at least it is permanent. By contrast, Mechanics Bank's head seems more interesting and with a public scale -- I particularly like the brown nose as an homage to Council's appointment practices ... However, enjoy this while you can -- it is made of fiberglass, will be susceptible to vandalism, and repairs won't look any better than its current nose-job. I appreciate efforts to improve historic downtown. However, statuary and walks with the Mayor probably shouldn't crowd-out reporting on marketing 1/2 of downtown for campaign contributions.
Michael O'Connor July 01, 2012 at 03:54 PM
ok I concede but my comments did enlist some buzz :)
Triple Canopy July 02, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Mr. Frederic, Your deep animosity and angst towards the City Council must come from some deep rooted source where you felt extremely wronged by their actions or decisions. What was it? Do you feel you were you conspired against? Did they piss on your cornflakes in the past or is this just your sour personality?
michael frederick July 02, 2012 at 07:06 PM
TC, You seem to be under the delusion that slandering "Mr. Frederic" is somehow a response to public issues like West Downtown Specific Plan. I can assure you it isn't. While your limited experience here necessitates addressing issues on a personal level, I prefer addressing issues on merit. Not because that serves "Mr. Frederic", but Walnut Creek.
Elizabeth July 02, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Hahah, I see Mr. Frederic is back........
Triple Canopy July 03, 2012 at 04:48 AM
MF, You've got no credibility. Your rants during city council hearings when you put up some triptych along the tack board ledge in the council chamber was laughable. WC Patch seems to be your only outlet since your conspiracy theories and verbal ramblings have reached super-irrelevance. Well done. You're right up there with Ralph Hoffman... the drunken pervert. Limited experience? Ha! I know more than you think I know. Yessiree.. bad cornflakes.
michael frederick July 03, 2012 at 06:52 PM
TC, One of us has over 35 years of experience with the City Council and commercial real estate as a rather prominent owner on Main; experience he seeks to share with the public in a format, Patch, that is conducive toward that end. The other has internet service and an insecurity complex he's working to overcome. Ralph Hoffman uses his own name, substantiates his opinions with information, and never seeks to substitute sand-box antics for a complete lack of substance. "I know more than you think." I see no evidence to support that. If there were, given your obvious need to achieve self-affirmation, there would be.
John N August 21, 2012 at 11:21 PM
I saw today that they were loading the "Fountainhead" on to the back of a truck and hauling it away. Maybe they are going to put it in the same warehouse that the "lost ark" is in:) Wouldn't that be cool. I don't care who paid for it, it was a waste of money.
carol putman March 23, 2013 at 04:01 AM
"Fountainhead" makes Concord's "Spirit Poles" look good.

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