BY TRINA L. DROTAR
THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz
Artist Jenny Hale is asking for the community to lend a hand this Sunday with her public art installation “Shadow Flowers,” currently under construction in Burberry Community Park.
“Shadow Flowers” is an environmental public art piece which combines a walking path, garden, fabricated flowers and a mosaic-covered cement bench overlooking the park’s covered picnic area. Work on the installation is scheduled for completion next month or in early December.
The mixed-media piece brings natural and constructed materials together with a bit of whimsy from the tall, colorful flowers that double as shade for the bench. The flowers are often mistaken for butterflies, Hale said.
Chico-based artist Hale designed Burberry Community Park’s original public art installation “Bubblerocks,” which was completed in fall 2006 before most of the houses in the then-new neighborhood were built or occupied.
“It was a conceptual waterfall made up of three slabs of green granite sandblasted with ripples,” said Hale. “Metal balls painted a champagne pink were attached to the surface of the granite to simulate bubbles. The metal balls also flowed down along boulders which had been placed to create the effect of a waterfall flowing along a rock garden.”
According to Beth Mahony, Chair of the Parks and Schools Committee for Natomas Park who also resides near the park, “Bubblerocks” was slowly chipped away until early 2008, when it was destroyed by vandals.
“The city came the next day and tore up the rest and disposed of it,” she said.
Mahony reached out to various agencies and her then-councilmember Ray Tretheway, to see what could be done. Tretheway’s assistant Randi Kay Stephens worked closely with Mahony, eventually contacting the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission about replacing the public art piece.
Hale was at the top of the list to create the replacement. She needed to submit sketches and funding to pay for the new art needed to be secured.
“The reimbursement from Risk (City of Sacramento Risk Department) was combined with the percent for art remodel of the park to establish the allocation for a new public artwork to be designed, fabricated and installed by Jenny Hale to replace ‘Bubblerocks’,” said Suzy Vose, Art in Public Places Project Manager with Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission.
Vose said “Bubblerocks’” original design featured several elements which had been destroyed or stolen, including a major component that went missing altogether. Vose explained a review by Hale determined repairing the piece would be costly and future vandalism was also likely.
A new location, away from the original was selected, and “Shadow Flowers” began to rise. Hale said that the garden, designed in collaboration with City of Sacramento Landscape Architect Dennis Day, was in place before the flowers and bench.
Plants in the low-water garden include Japanese blood grass, crepe myrtle, Shasta daisy, New Zealand flax, Mexican primrose and a sedum called “Autumn Joy.”
Hale said that she wants the space to be a “place to remember,” a place where people visit and return, perhaps with children or grandchildren.
Mahony said that she prefers the new location because the sculpture is now visible from any location in the park, unlike the ground piece “Bubblerocks.”
“It’s like a hallmark of the park,” she said.
As part of the public art design, Hale has held hands-on workshops for the community throughout October. During the workshops, area residents of all ages helped sand mosaic tiles with the youngest even completing their own mosaic tiles to take home.
Hale said her belief that “artwork should be available to the public and be experienced beyond the gallery” includes engaging the community to help create artwork.
On Sunday, Oct. 20, several members of the Natomas community were on hand to prepare mosaic tiles for their eventual placement on the bench. The volunteers introduced themselves to the others and more experienced tile sanders assisted those less experienced. Hale showed newcomers how to sand and showed newcomers the bench.
The sanded tiles will eventually cover the bench. The sanding, Hale said, is important because people will not want to sit on a bench with sharp edges. The bench could last for several hundred years, she told the group, even though the grout may eventually wear away.
Hale said she has enjoyed meeting the community and seeing repeat volunteers at the hands-on workshops.
“Public artwork and community involvement in the creation of public art is a powerful community building tool,” she said.
All interested persons, ages 12 and up, are invited to participate in the final workshop scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27. Bring garden gloves and meet at the covered picnic area at Burberry Community Park, located at 2400 Burberry Way in Natomas.