You Asked, We Got The Answer – It’s Art!


The highly visible art installation in front of the North Natomas Library on Del Paso Road has Natomas-area residents buzzing. 

But what may look like graffiti to the casual passerby is not vandalism – it’s actually art.

It’s a concept difficult to grasp by many, some of whom have called and written THE NATOMAS BUZZ to decry the damage while others sought confirmation the spray paint is intentional.

“I think somebody vandalized the giant library book in front of ARC,” Jennifer wrote. “Not cool!” 

The installation of a giant eye and a 10-foot tall sculpture of a book by Joe Scarpa is one of three artworks recently installed at the library as part of the city’s ongoing Art in Public Places program.

The interactive artwork by Scarpa, titled “Authors of our own Destiny,” is visible from a distance but also meant to be seenand usedby people on foot. The book consists of three components: a massive painted steel book with a red cover and blank white pages; a steel and bronze sculpture of an eye that is suspended from an 18’ high steel post; and a gigantic pair of steel reading glasses.

Scarpa purposefully designed the book sculpture as a blank canvas to be painted or drawn on by the general public, patrons of the library, and students attending the adjacent high school and community college. The book’s surface is expected to be spontaneously painted over and over again with images, writings, and storiesproviding the community with a temporary platform for their ideas and artworks.
The paintings and drawings will only be preserved until the next person paints the surface. Most recently, local aerosol and graphic artist Anthony Padilla left his mark when he spray-painted the word “inspire” in large, yellow letters on the book.
While some Natomas residents remain puzzled by the appearance of graffiti on the piece, others are relieved.

“So many of us started to blame the kids,” wrote Elena. “Thanks for answering!”



  1. I’m not a fan of the concept at all.

    Some view graffiti as art. I don’t. It’s the same sort of thing we see on buildings, walls, fences, and railroad cars in blighted high crime areas. The last thing this community needs is a canvas that not only tolerates it but encourages and glorifies it.

    That the surface it is painted upon is designed and engineered for the purpose is of little mitigation. Its existence is harming our community.

    So many community members have reported this as vandalism because, Hello?! That’s what it looks like! How many people who do not live here (shoppers, visitors, prospective home buyers) pass it by and find it disgusting that such a nice sculpture has been overrun with urban style graffiti? And how many people who do live here see it and just shake their heads at what they perceive as crime spiraling out of control?

    I don’t blame the graffiti “artist” because he didn’t break the law. But I do blame those responsible for not having the forethought to see this coming!

    I appreciate that the sculpture artist had good intentions, but this project is a failure and needs to be abandoned. An appropriate permanent artistic rendering needs to be applied to the “pages” of the book, then covered in a nonporous lacquer to protect it from graffiti tagging going forward.

  2. Anonymous says

    I like the book (other than the graffiti aspect of it), but the eyeball is disturbing and ugly.

  3. Anonymous says

    I don’t consider a public graffiti canvas as art, and would like to see it removed.

  4. I thought it was graffiti the first time I passed by, and was happy to hear it was NOT. I have to agree with Keith in some ways. IF some people pass by not knowing, it makes the area look less desirable.

  5. Anonymous says

    I’ve never seen graffiti that said “Inspire”. Just because it’s in graffiti letters doesn’t mean people can’t appreciate the message. I don’t see any reason to change it!

  6. Anonymous says

    One word, “Ghetto”

  7. Anonymous says

    There goes our property values. It’s poor taste in art. ;(

  8. Uncle Doreen says

    To the average residence this looks like the same garbage tagged on road signs, bridges and basically anything else stationary long enough to have some little thug deface it. I am so disgusted that a center dedicated to increasing knowledge has chosen to sink to the lowest common denominator as an expression. They took the quotes of great leaders in history and made it appear as if taggers have overtaken our community. It is taking great restrain on my part not to grab white paint and return the sculpture to its original state. In short, I am pissed off beyond belief. It is bad enough the library is not open during the hours I can use it, now I have to drive past this piece of trash every day. A pathetic use of my hard earned tax dollars.

  9. Anonymous says

    I also consider it to be trashy and out of place in the neighborhood. The concept of the eyeball reading a book was cool and fit the concept of the library. But the art needs to be toned down and tasteful

  10. Anonymous says

    Oh we should probably have a townhall meeting immediately, because this is so important.

    Personally, I like it! It sparks interest and encourages conversation. It’s different and imaginative. I don’t know, I think that is what they call, art?!

  11. Anonymous (May 11, 2010 2:34 PM) wrote: “I’ve never seen graffiti that said ‘Inspire’. Just because it’s in graffiti letters doesn’t mean people can’t appreciate the message. I don’t see any reason to change it!”

    I agree, the message is great. The message is beautiful.

    But the means of expressing it is not in synch with the sensibilities of the neighborhood.

    Earlier I wrote: “I don’t blame the graffiti ‘artist’ because he didn’t break the law.” I would like to amend that by saying “I even appreciate the message he was trying to convey.”

    My disappointment is expressed towards the people who approved of this concept for not predicting this would happen. I know if I were in the room when this concept was first unveiled, I would have said something like “Whoahhh, wait wait wait a minute. You mean ANYONE can come by and paint ANYTHING on it? ANYONE? Really? No no no, that’s never gonna work!”

    And judging from the majority of the comments posted today, I say most would agree.

  12. Anonymous says

    Personally I like it. Art is meant to inspire discussion, not be a non-entity that people pass by and say, “oh, isn’t that nice.” I wasn’t real thrilled with the floating eyeball at first, but it’s grown on me, and now I look forward to what some other inspired artist may do. I know I’m not going to convince people who are only concerned about their property values or think art should be toned down (to whose standards?) or think art is for the highest common denominator and not low-lifes, but I wanted to put one positive vote out there. Please remember that the Eiffel Tower was vilified as a clumsy monstrosity, and that impressionism was deemed not serious art at the time.

  13. Such negative people, many of them anonymous. It’s art, not everyone will like it but it enriches the community. It’s got a vital and modern feel and I really like it! And it makes you think and feel which art should do!

  14. Wow. I’m shocked that so many people view the sculpture as graffiti. I think it is cool that people have this as a way to connect to the community and I see it as creative expression. It makes me sad that you’re all so caught up in the vanity of how others will view our neighborhood.

    When I lived in El Dorado Hills we had a large rock on the side of El Dorado Hills Blvd (I think it is still there) and we painted it for holidays, special community events, or just to write happy birthday to someone. Everyone I grew up with has a “rock” memory. The community didn’t see this as vandalism, quite the opposite the rock was special to everyone so much that when the hill it was on was being built on, the community had it moved to the other side of the road so it could still be seen. We loved it so much that after 9-11 when someone painted a flag on the rock and no one wanted to paint over it, the community came in and added a second rock right next to it. It was a fun way for our community to voice, connect and express and if you give it a chance the sculpture might grow on you and become as beloved as the rock in EDH. It could happen.

  15. Anonymous says

    I guess I am a cynic, but ever since the book was put up I was expecting it to be tagged with graffiti. I think it sends a very bad message that graffiti is tolerated, if not encouraged.

  16. Anonymous says

    If it is that bad, the community should “inspire” another artist to fix it…

  17. Anonymous (May 11, 2010 9:54 PM ) wrote: “Art is meant to inspire discussion, not be a non-entity that people pass by and say, ‘oh, isn’t that nice.'”

    Actually, I think most people who live in our community would prefer about which they WOULD say “oh, isn’t that nice.”

  18. Since when is graffiti art? And to the person who said (to whose standards), to the majorities, that’s who. This is just telling kids that it is good to “tag”. This is not San Francisco with the inner city life. This is North Natomas, a suburban neighborhood of Sacramento. If I wanted this, I would move to an area of such. Some say art promotes discussion, so do blighted areas of which this reeks of. The book needs to be cleaned up. My next email will be to the City Council and Mayor’s office.

  19. Anonymous says

    I haven’t seen this in person, but the pictures look awesome, I really like it. Of course, if its not one of six shades of beige, the majority of Natomas won’t like it…

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