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Published March 17th, 2021
Exciting new public art coming to Lafayette
Renderings showing public art coming soon to the Lennar development. Image provided

It takes more than a pandemic to slow the work of the public art committee, it seems, judging by a recent presentation made to the Lafayette City Council highlighting the past year's work and giving a glimpse of future projects coming to the city.
In addition to the many areas of work highlighted in the presentation, PAC Chair Susan Loria explained that during 2020-21 the committee has worked collaboratively with sponsors on seven new building projects - a 200% increase over the previous year. The art provided by new building projects has high visibility to the public, she noted.
Loria took the council through a series of slides showing some of those projects. The Lennar Homes site - the three-story, residential and retail project at 3666 Mt. Diablo Blvd. at the intersection of Dolores Road - will have two projects. The first, a large 12-foot tall, conical shaped, stainless steel, laser-etched sculpture, with a low energy LED lighting feature illuminating a pattern of migratory birds will be located in the public plaza between retail space and a restaurant. Currently final adjustments are being made to the design, which will be subject to PAC approval. It is the work of design team Wowhaus, which has worked on projects in Oakland, Walnut Creek, Seattle and Boston.
The second art project at Lennar will be even more visible, said Loria, with a 200-foot length of colorful, mostly handmade ceramic tile mosaics by artist Aileen Barr on the planters and the staircase that leads to the trail being constructed to eventually run between Mt. Diablo Boulevard to the BART station. The black birds on a blue background featured on the staircase echo the design on the sculpture. Barr is also known for her mosaic work on outdoor staircases in San Francisco.
On the other end of town, at the intersection of Brown Avenue and Mt. Diablo Boulevard, four art pieces by Joe Bologna will grace the site of the Mill at Brown, featuring two sculptures called Bird Row (brightly colored birds on a ledge), with a further two pieces called Friendly Gathering on Mt. Diablo Boulevard (birds on a utility pole, constructed specifically to keep sightlines clear for traffic).
Lenox Homes, at 210 Lafayette Circle, will be home to a painted steel, 10-foot sculpture called "Flight" by J.P. Long.
Additionally art projects are being considered for several other sites around the city.
Loria also updated the council on the Town Center/BART pathway project by Kinematics Lab known as the Dandelion project, now on hold awaiting a decision on funding from the County Transportation Authority, delayed due to COVID.
Loria went on to mention an upcoming project that is in fact not public art since it will be on private property on the wall just below Uncle Yu's restaurant - a diversity, equity and inclusion mural by local artist Lara Dutto, proposed by a local nonprofit, to be done in conjunction with young artists from Lamorinda. Loria said there had been considerable excitement and interest about the mural featuring flowers, monarch butterflies, a panther and a dragon, but notes it is prompting the committee to consider guidelines for art on private property that is publicly visible.
Recognizing the need to update and expand its list of preferred artists through a lens of diversity, equity and inclusion, as explained in the staff report, the PAC noted interest from residents in community-based artistic expression in response to current events, including the movement toward social justice and racial equality, as well as the experience of the COVID pandemic. An example of such an installation is the BIPOC rock garden created by Stanley Middle School student Adam Dolberg, currently on loan to the city until September 2022 at the Lafayette Community Center.
Noting that two of the development projects requested a waiver of the public art requirement under the state density bonus application process (with one of those since rescinded), Loria said that waivers do raise some concerns for the PAC, "that as more projects come along and more waivers are taken, it will diminish our ability to bring more art to the city of Lafayette." However the committee welcomes and supports the $2 million donated from the developers of Lafayette Lane in lieu of public art to the restoration of the Park Theater. "We will only benefit from that," said Loria.
An interactive map on the PAC website can be found at www.lovelafayette.org/city-hall/commissions-committees/public-art-committee/public-art-map/-fsiteid-1

An example of Aileen Barr's work - tiled steps in San Francisco. Image provided

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