Art for the Public by the Public
Benicia public art projects make street corners pop
Have the vibrant colors and whimsical images caught your eye as you drive or walk the streets of our fair city? All over Benicia, the neighborhood traffic signal control boxes have taken on a second vital service to the community, as canvases for delightful works of public art.
Recent additions to the city’s collection include Samantha Moore’s “Cat Food” signal box at the corner of E Second St. and Hillcrest Ave., and Kary Stickney’s “Tangled Garden” signal box at the corner of Rose Dr. and Columbus Pkwy.
“The domain of public art is not on First Street. It needs to go out into the community.”
Benicia has always been known as an arts colony, but there haven’t always been manifestations of that, according to Terry Scott, who serves as Chair of Benicia’s Arts and Culture Commission, which sponsors the beautiful multi-paneled paintings. “The domain of public art is not on First Street. It needs to go out into the community.”
Scott believes that public art can create a sense of place and provide an emotional connection for residents of the community. “The residents have embraced and taken ownership of these pieces,” he said. “It’s a city signal box until it’s painted, and it’s a community piece of art once it’s done. The community is so appreciative of the work we’re doing.”
Public Art Enhances
The Arts and Culture Commission took on the challenge to visualize public art throughout the city. “On all the ubiquitous blank canvases—you look for those kinds of palettes and say, ‘How can public art enhance this and make the city more livable?’”
Just this year alone, the Arts and Culture Commission has unveiled numerous public art projects, including “Neptune’s Daughter,” a seven-foot bronze sculpture by Lisa Reinerston located on the shoreline walkway behind the Tannery Building on First Street, and the Tula Sister City 9-by-12-foot mural of hand-painted tiles on the side of Benicia Public Library. Also new to the public art scene are artist-painted benches at City Hall and the library.
A recent Arts and Culture Commission collaboration with Benicia Unified School District gave rise to a mural at Mary Farmar Elementary School. In addition, the Arts and Culture Commission is working with the Economic Development Board on a beautification project at the corner of Military and E Second St. that will welcome visitors to Benicia, and there is a project underway with the Benicia Historical Museum at the Camel Barns to install entrance gates that are art forms of camels.
Public art is funded by the public, through private donations and as well as fundraisers such as the Halloween Spooktacular film night at the Majestic Theatre and the Benicia International Film Festival held at the Veteran’s Hall. Once an idea comes in, there is a 12-month cycle to completion. The process ensures the art project meets the needs of community by including the public in the development. All meetings are open to the public, and anyone can propose an idea.
“How do we make Benicia a fun destination and a community that celebrates its history and is not afraid to embrace something new?” That is the question that Scott sets out to answer through his creative and passionate work with the Arts and Culture Commission.
Click here to see a listing of all the public art in Benicia.
For more information, visit the Benicia Arts and Culture Commission website at www.beniciaartsandculture.org