Imagine Art in Old Courthouse Square
Blessing Hancock's Proposal "Unum" Approved
After an extensive selection process that narrowed down over 140 submission to five finalists, one artist has been approved by the Art in Public Places Committee. Blessing Hancock’s design “Unum” was identified by the project Selection Panel as the top proposal and best satisfied the goals of the project.
The Public Art Program received an unprecedented number of submissions from artists across the country for the permanent Courthouse Square public art project. Five finalists were identified through a competitive selection process and invited to submit designs. The goal of this completed project is to provide the entire Santa Rosa community with a prominent artistic symbol that reflects the uniquely Santa Rosa values of innovation and cultural inclusivity. This art installation should inspire people living in, and visiting, our city to reflect on what is special about our community and encourage them to gather downtown to experience it first-hand. The development of the project included community engagement with stakeholders and surveys for general public input to help shape project goals and selection criteria.
Finalist Design Proposals
- FINALISTS' PROPOSALS
- Benjamin Ball
- Laura Haddad & Tom Drugan
- Blessing Hancock
- Gordon Huether
- Ned Kahn
Please click each artist's name to view their proposal.
Artist: Benjamin Ball, Ball-Nogues Studio
Title: The Tie that Binds
Description: Forming a grand gateway to Old Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, The Tie that Binds is an urban scaled sculpture that recalls the agricultural history of the region while reminding us of the connection between individuals that make up the diverse cultural fabric of the community. The artwork can be seen as a representation of strands of twine that form a double half-hitch knot, sometimes referred to as the clove hitch - a variety of knot used in viticulture to bind vines to a trellis. Alternatively, the artwork might be seen as the tendrils that coil and clasp, enabling the stems of a grapevine to climb. The material of the artwork contributes to its enigma by inviting the participation of the viewer. Rather than literally being made of twine or vines, our knot is formed by a string of mirror-polished spheres that reflect the viewer's own image and the surrounding landscape: visitors see themselves and the world around them reflected within each of the dozens of spheres that make up the knot, one's own image becomes part of the story.
Dimensions: approximately 28' high by 44' long by 21' wide
Materials: stainless wire rope, stainless tube, stainless steel, optional thermoplastic coating
Artist: Laura Haddad & Tom Drugan
Title: Valley of the Moon
Description: The word “Sonoma”, referring to the Suisun term for the area known as the “Valley of the Moon”, reflects the original name given to Sonoma County by its first residents. Through its forms and materials, Valley of the Moon pays homage to the moon, the sun, the scale, and the natural bounty of the redwood trees that define both Old Courthouse Square and the Sonoma Valley. In a nod to the original courthouse that once stood on the square, the crescentic moon acts as a scale that, when lit at night, would act as a community beacon like a citified moon similar to the cupola roof crowning the old courthouse. The sculpture is sited to tie into the existing symmetry of the central lawn and light pillars, giving a sense of being rooted in place as well as being bookended between the existing structures; ultimately fitted low enough so the actual “valley” landscape is a backdrop to the “moon” as its gateway view.
Dimensions: approximately 18’ high by 35’ long by 6’ wide (Crescent) and 6.5’-8’ diameter sphere
Materials: marine-grade stainless steel, redwood decking, and tessellated stainless steel (with either mirror-polish finish or laminated dichroic glass options)
Artist: Blessing Hancock
Description: “Unum”, Latin for ‘oneness or together’, is a signature artwork that places emphasis on innovation, diversity, and engagement as leading values of Santa Rosa. Inspired by the unified Old Courthouse Square, the sculpture embraces themes of welcoming and inspiration, while also relaying the Santa Rosa values of innovation and cultural inclusivity through its text which was collected through a community engagement process that speaks values inherent to Santa Rosa. During the day the sculpture casts shadows of the words onto the square using sunlight whereas in the early morning and evening hours, it will be Illuminated by LED light fixtures mounted within the sculpture creating a soft, diffused glow with the structure’s form.
Dimensions: approximately 12’ high and 15’ diameter
Materials: water jet cut stainless steel
Artist: Gordon Huether
Title: The Dome
Description: This design is inspired by two primary driving forces: the original dome from the old courthouse as a fundamental shape acting as something of an amphitheater, a gathering space, a symbol of the old and the new, and of forward-thinking Santa Rosa; and a quote from Luther Burbank, “Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine to the soul.” This sculpture brings thought about the natural wonders of the area and Luther Burbank’s explorations of botany and agricultural science. Transforming rock, glass, water, and flowers into a large-scale sculpture, the abstract flower petals create a rose window similar to cathedrals or in a kaleidoscope; uniting old and new, tradition and progress, natural with innovation.
Dimensions: approximately 18’ high and 36’ diameter
Materials: stainless steel, laminated dichroic glass
Artist: Ned Kahn
Title: Air Arbor
Description: Inspired by the way sunlight filters down through the leaves of a grape vine, this kinetic arbor creates an oasis of dappled light and shade in the heart of Santa Rosa providing a portal into the invisible. A ring of 12 tilted poles will support a spiral of 36 translucent white fabric curtains, each cut with leaf-sized incisions so they will ripple in the wind like water. Each layer of the translucent fabric will capture light and shadows, similar to clouds or fog, combining to create an ever-changing vortex of wind and light. In addition to being self-cleaning, environmentally benign, impervious to UV and completely recyclable, the artwork has a deeper ecological benefit by making the passage of wind visible; the artwork has the potential to awaken people to the beauty and mystery of the air that we breathe.
Dimensions: approximately 24’ high and 48’ diameter
Materials: stainless steel, Teflon fabric (Tenara)
The survey is now closed. Thank you for your input! Learn more about each design proposal in the tabbed information below and check back soon for updates.
REQUEST FOR QUALIFICATIONS- FINALISTS
The City of Santa Rosa Public Art Program issued a Request for Qualifications seeking an artist or team of artists to design, fabricate and install site-specific public art at the north end of Old Courthouse Square which is the terminus of Mendocino Avenue in Downtown Santa Rosa, CA. The deadline to submit qualifications was January 13, 2020. The Public Art Program received over 140 submissions from artists across the country. A selection panel was formed representing arts professionals, downtown business and property owners, downtown residents, and the Art in Public Places Committee. The selection process ultimately identified these five finalists who were invited to submit project proposals:
This public art opportunity is for an artist or team of artists to design, fabricate and install site-specific public art at the terminus of Mendocino Avenue at the north end of Old Courthouse Square in Downtown Santa Rosa, CA.
The goal of this completed project is to provide the entire Santa Rosa community with a prominent artistic symbol that reflects the uniquely Santa Rosa values of innovation and cultural inclusivity. This art installation should inspire people living in, and visiting, our city to reflect on what is special about our community and encourage them to gather downtown to experience it first-hand.
The artist or artist team selected for this project will create a dynamic public art installation that contributes to a vital, thriving space to connect with each other and with the space. The public art should be forward-thinking and express the innovation, diversity, and engagement of the community. The public art should help create a sense of place for Old Courthouse Square. To read the Request for Qualifications, click HERE.
Old Courthouse Square is a central public plaza in the heart of downtown Santa Rosa. The approved Old Courthouse Square Master Plan identifies an area along 4th Street, at the terminus of Mendocino Avenue, to be dedicated to public art. The square is seen by many as the heart of the downtown and even of the city and is regularly used for a variety of special events and community gatherings. The public art installation should take into account the existing and proposed future amenities at the square, including landscaping, hardscape, lighting and public art.
This commission is open to practicing, professional artists residing in the United States.
The total available funding for the project is $280,000 (all inclusive – design and construction) and comes from the City of Santa Rosa Public Art Fund.
ESTIMATED TIMELINE - UPDATED 12/9/20 (subject to change)
|December 14, 2020||Selection Panel Recommendation to Art in Public Places Committee|
|January 2021||Finalize Artist Services Agreement with selected artist|
|January - February, 2021||Final Design; Community Engagement Process|
|February - December, 2021||Artwork Fabrication|
|January - February, 2022||Artwork Installation|
ARTIST SELECTION PROCESS
Applications will be prescreened by the Arts Coordinator and then presented to the selection panel. The selection panel will identify and recommend three finalist artists based on the project selection criteria. The finalists will be invited to submit a specific proposal for which they will be paid an honorarium. All finalists will be expected to attend an orientation to learn more about the project site and materials prior to developing a specific proposal for the project. Using the project criteria, one artist will be selected to complete the project. The APPC will approve the final artist recommended by the Selection Panel, as well as the final artwork design.
The approved Old Courthouse Square master plan identifies an area along 4th Street dedicated to public art. During the design process for the reunified square, the public expressed a strong interest in two art projects for the square: restoring the Ruth Asawa panels AND the installation of a new public art project. The Ruth Asawa panels are being stored until a new fountain structure can be built. The Downtown Action Organization is working on moving this project forward. Funding for the new public art project is a combination of the required 1% of the construction budget for the square, and in-lieu fees from private development required to meet the City’s public art in private development ordinance. These sources of funding can only be used for public art.
HISTORY & CONTEXT
Old Courthouse Square gets its name from the first courthouse on the site, dedicated by General Vallejo in 1884. The 1906 earthquake destroyed that building and much of Santa Rosa. Another courthouse was built on the site in 1908 and served as the county courthouse for another 58 years before being demolished in 1966. From 1967 to 2016, the square was bisected by a major thoroughfare connecting Santa Rosa Avenue and Mendocino Avenue.
Old Courthouse Square was reunified in 2017. Granite slabs that served as the steps of the 1908 courthouse were saved and incorporated to form the frame around the lawn which is representative of the footprint of the original courthouse on the square. Reclaiming this public square in the center of downtown Santa Rosa was a statement by the community of its value on the importance of a communal, public gathering space. It also offers a chance to make a statement about how art plays a specific role in reflecting a community’s identity and in inspiring its aspirations for the future.
Santa Rosa is the largest city in Sonoma County with an estimated population of 177,586. The city operates as the county seat and serves a wider county population of 500,000.Artist: