“Subtile” unveiling: Public art piece unveiled in the Bridge District

By Michele Townsend

On Thursday, Nov. 30, Mayor Cabaldon enthusiastically represented the City of West Sacramento in the official unveiling of a new public art piece titled SUBTILE (pronounced: subtle). This art piece marks achievements in many aspects for the city. In 1993, the City Council adopted a land use vision for the Bridge District that integrated the river and public spaces as the heart of a planned new urban-scale, infill development. Since then, the development of the River Walk has been an ongoing project. As with any major plan, the development is, and will continue to be, done in phases. This $500,000 public art piece is the next step in that development. It’s not however, the city throwing money around! There was a process and several exciting steps that occurred in order for this art piece to become a reality.

Mark Friedman, of Fulcrum Properties, co-hosted the event. Fulcrum Properties is the developers that are responsible for the construction the area that, to date, includes The Barn, the new housing units that have been built in that area, and now the placement and installation of this piece. They are the “guys” responsible for making the vision come to life throughout the Bridge District.

In 2014, West Sacramento entered into a California Competition that supports “Art and Parks” in affordable housing areas. The vision for this group is to not only to build affordable housing, but to build good neighborhoods. West Sacramento was awarded the grant that has eventually led to the construction and installation of this unique piece of art.

But the story doesn’t stop there. In May of 2015 the City of West Sacramento requested for artist proposals for a public art installation on the River Walk. This piece was to be developed for this very specific piece of land. One hundred proposals were received by the city and the artist chosen was Federico Diaz.

Federico was selected as the winner of an international contest to commission this 40-foot-tall sculpture along the Sacramento River. Federico has previous projects on display at institutions that include the Venice Biennale, CAFA Museum Beijing and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, just to name a few. His art uses new media “to reveal simple aspects of everyday reality and our natural environment which are elusive through primary human senses”. Mark Friedman explained this as “The desire to make hidden forces that descend upon us, visible.” To create this vision, Federico walked the specific site, then entered the information he gathered into an algorithm to simulate the growth of trees. He then took those results and constructed a 40x16x11ft, 40,000 pound sculpture that contains 34,000 2 inch metal, reflective discs. The sculpture is shaped to reflect the many aspects of the surrounding environment. The mayor described it as a “monumental and spectacular piece of art that will look different each time you visit it.” Those in attendance saw for themselves just how true this statement is!

As the sun set, and the art piece picked up the colors in the sky, the sculpture was a beautiful golden, and in some places almost white. But as the speeches continued, and the whistle of the train across the river sounded as well as shining the light from the train, the piece took on an entire different look. It was, in fact, quite spectacular! The vision for the growth and development may be 25 years old, but it is still moving along with great thought and excitement. Mayor Cabaldon said “This is not the first, and definitely not the last, piece of public art that will happen here.”

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