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By Roz Rogoff

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About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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I'm not an artist, but . . .

Uploaded: Mar 21, 2013
I attended the Arts Advisory Committee meeting Wednesday night. The Agenda included two items on Art in Public Places. I missed the meeting in February because of my accident and skipped a meeting in December after attending the special meeting in November to meet with artist Chris Rench in the Sports Park.

Rench sent some preliminary drawings in December which the Committee evaluated and contacted him with feedback and suggestions on his initial concepts. The Committee's package for March included Rench's new concepts based on the feedback he received.

Several members of the Committee thought Rench moved too far from the abstract and his familiar shapes in his first draft to ideas that are too concrete and not original enough in his second attempt. I liked the block letters he used to make the word P L A Y, which was one of the options he sent, but I wanted to see some elements of the activities included with the word PLAY.

I didn't care for the referee whistle with a kinetic globe on top. Committee members made some comments about it, which I didn't catch without my hearing aids on, but everyone was laughing and looking sly.

Committee Chairman Ron LaRussa told Mr. Rench over the phone that the committee liked the PLAY concept but then said, "I'm not an artist, but we would like something more abstract."

I added "I like the word PLAY, but you should incorporate what is being played, like baseball or football, or soccer." Ron gave me a look as if to say, "He's the artist and you are not." So I quickly added, "of course these are just suggestions. I'm not an artist." Rench thanked us for the call and said he would continue working on it.

The first item of Committee Business was a "conceptual review" of public art for a new building on San Ramon Valley Blvd. San Ramon requires all new developments incorporate public art.

Mr. Simon Lin, the architect for the new building, presented illustrations of the proposed artwork, which is based on two acrylic paintings of fish by Carol Lin. Mr. Lin said that the fish paintings were chosen because they are friendly and welcoming. The illustrations in the Committee package are colorful and convey a relaxing sense of movement.

Mr. Lin's plan is to adapt the paintings to mosaic tile placed in a paved area in front of the building by mosaic tile artist Robin Indar. Parks Department Project Manager Kathi Heimann phoned Ms. Indar so the Committee members could ask questions about converting the paintings to mosaics.

Donna Batchelor asked several questions about the durability and safety of walking on the mosaics. Ms. Indar said she would seal the mosaics under plastic. Mr. Lin said that because the mosaics would be on private property and not on the public sidewalk or at the entrance to the building, the mosaics would not be subject to much pedestrian traffic.

I asked Mr. Lin why he wants to put the artwork on the ground instead of on the side of the building. He wants the pedestrians walking by to see them and not just people in cars driving into the parking lot.

I asked Kathi Heimann if the artworks must be placed at the front of the building or the entrance. The entrances to the building in Mr. Lin's plans are at the back for access from the parking lot and on the side with access from a path from San Ramon Valley Blvd. Ms. Heimann said the city doesn't require a specific location as long as the art work is visible to the public.

Mr. Lin's plans are for the ground floor to house a new restaurant. I asked if it would be a seafood restaurant. Mr. Lin said no tenant has been chosen yet and the fish in the paintings, which look like tropical fish, are not the kind most people eat.

The new building will share the parking lot with the ABC Pet Clinic. Last August the Arts Advisory Committee voted to recommended mosaics of a dog and cat or paw prints to the Planning Commission for the front of the ABC Pet Clinic.

The Committee voted unanimously to recommend Mr. Lin's proposed art work to the Planning Commission for final approval. Whether intentional or coincidence, the fish mosaics for the neighboring building should complement the similar animal-themed mosaics used at the entrance of the ABC Pet Clinic.

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