Public art in Santa Clarita

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By Michele E. Buttelman

Across the Santa Clarita landscape, residents will stumble upon poetry etched into concrete, brightly painted murals, and striking artistic sculptures.

The visible work of the Santa Clarita Arts Commission can be found in nearly 100 locations around the city.

From “California Scape” located at Fair Oaks Park in Canyon Country to “Crossroads” at the Iron Horse Trailhead in Valencia, art encompasses a variety of sizes, styles and genres.

Artist/architect Karen Kitayama, left, representing Forma Studio, joins Santa Clarita City Council members and Santa Clarita Arts Commission member Michael Millar, right, as they unveil the limestone sculpture titled “California Scape” at Fair Oaks Park in Canyon Country on Thursday, October 15, 2020. | Photo: Dan Watson/The Signal.

arts commission

In 2009, the Santa Clarita City Council founded the Santa Clarita Arts Commission.

Current members of the Santa Clarita Arts Commission: President Susan Shapiro, Vice President April Scott-Goss, Patti Rassmusen, Andrea Vibe and

Dr. Michael Millar.

Millar was the founding chair of the Arts Commission in 2009. He has served on the commission since its inception.

Commissioner Patti Rassmusen, who has served on the commission since 2013, said she is passionate about arts education.

“I’ve seen what the arts can do for these kids who don’t want to play sports, who have this side that needs to be nurtured,” she says. “Seeing what public art can do for a community is eye-opening and amazing. We are so lucky to have a city council that embraces art. I am proud of our city.

Arts Master Plan

In the fall of 2016, the Santa Clarita City Council approved the Arts Master Plan, which became the Arts Commission’s guiding document for ensuring the development of arts, entertainment, and culture throughout the city.

As part of the plan, the following vision statement was released:

“The City of Santa Clarita will be recognized as a ‘City of the Arts’, where the lives of residents, artists and visitors are enriched with artistic and cultural experiences.

The plan required that the planning and selection of public art use peer review and community input to ensure that works of public art meet the goals of providing enjoyable and engaging public spaces that reflect the character of the community.

Susan Shapiro, Chair of the Arts Commission, said implementing an arts master plan was an important step for the commission.

“The master plan helped show the city’s commitment to public art,” she said. “Additionally, the Arts Master Plan is an important way to show support for artists in the community.”

Shapiro said it was crucial to make arts and cultural experiences accessible to all members of the community.

One of Shapiro’s hopes for the future is to see the development of artists’ living and working space.

“We need to do more to support artists who live in our community and want to work in our community,” she said. “One of the important things the arts commission can do is show the arts community in Santa Clarita that they are valued.”

Located in historic Veterans Square, this statue is of eleven-year-old William J. Johnston Jr., who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Abraham Lincoln on September 16, 1863 for gallantry in battle of seven days and the campaign of the peninsula during the Civil War.  This sculpture is a representation of Johnston, who was just five feet tall and served as a drummer in Company D, Third Vermont Volunteer Infantry of the Union Army.
Located in historic Veterans Square, this statue is of eleven-year-old William J. Johnston Jr., who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Abraham Lincoln on September 16, 1863 for gallantry in battle of seven days and the campaign of the peninsula during the Civil War. This sculpture is a representation of Johnston, who was just five feet tall and served as a drummer in Company D, Third Vermont Volunteer Infantry of the Union Army. Courtesy of the City of Santa Clarita.

Sculptures

Public art in Santa Clarita includes over 25 sculptures, three of which are temporary installations.

The newest facilities are located at the new Canyon Country Community Center, 18410 Sierra Highway, Canyon Country, CA 91351.

Pieces include “Communtree” and “Circle Song,” a mural made entirely of handmade glazed ceramic tiles, including tiles created by Santa Clarita residents.

The
The “Iconic Gas Pump Bike Rack” is among the latest artworks installed at Canyon Country Community Center in 2021. Courtesy of the City of Santa Clarita.

The “Iconic Gas Pump Bike Rack” is also located at the Community Center. A functional work of art that doubles as a bike rack. Incorporated into the bike rack is a service station for minor bike repairs, including a pump and tools, Shapiro said.

Installed in 2021, the
Installed in 2021, the “Saugus Memorial Obelisks” were created to honor Dominic Michael Blackwell and Gracie Anne Muehlberger, who were victims of the 2019 Saugus High School shooting. Each obelisk is covered in 28,000 mosaic glass tiles Italian. Courtesy of the City of Santa Clarita.

Other notable sculpture installations in Santa Clarita include “Fire Pit” located at Fire Station 156 in Valencia, “IMAG_NE” at Valencia Library, “Willie Johnston” at historic Newhall Veterans Square, and “Saugus Memorial Obelisks”, two obelisks covered with 28,000 Italians. Mosaic glass tiles honoring the two students killed in the 2919 Saugus High School shooting.

Many public art projects were installed in Santa Clarita prior to the establishment of the Arts Commission, including the 2006 Art Can project. The 55 gallon painted steel drums are used as functional art and located in Newhall.

One of Santa Clarita’s first art installations was the 1994 water feature at the Santa Clarita Subway Station.

The California Bear Project, developed in August 2004 by the city, installed life-size fiberglass representations of a California grizzly bear from 2005 to 2018 throughout Santa Clarita.

The “Community Mosaic Mural,” located on the South Fork Trail between Valencia Boulevard and McBean Parkway, was installed in 2014.
The “Community Mosaic Mural,” located on the South Fork Trail between Valencia Boulevard and McBean Drive, was installed in 2014. Courtesy of the City of Santa Clarita.

Murals

Among the 15 Santa Clarita Murals and Paintings is a series of murals painted in 2007 in Newhall on Main Street that commemorate Santa Clarita’s Western heritage. Art also adorns the Santa Clarita skate park and aquatic center, public libraries, and other venues.

Installed in 2007, Santa Clarita's rich history of Western cinema is depicted in this mural located near the Walk of Western Stars in Old Town Newhall.
Installed in 2007, Santa Clarita’s rich history of Western cinema is depicted in this mural located near the Walk of Western Stars in Old Town Newhall. Courtesy of the City of Santa Clarita.

sidewalk poetry

The 30 sidewalk poetry installations are spread across Santa Clarita, waiting to be found like hidden gems in the dust. The Santa Clarita Sidewalk Poetry Program is a collaboration with the city’s Department of Public Works as part of a sidewalk rehabilitation program, with approximately 10 poems selected each year to be stamped on ongoing damaged sidewalks. of repair.

future art

Three additional sculptures are awaiting installation at the Canyon Country Community Center. The steel artworks, “In the Wind”, “Amongst the Wildflowers” and “Canyon Sunrise” by H&E Design will depict the western scrub jay, wildflowers and canyon sunrise, which have been inspired by the surroundings of Santa Clarita.

Currently, Santa Clarita is calling for artists to design a mural for the newly opened Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station on Golden Valley Road.

Shapiro said the Vista Canyon Metrolink station will also include an art installation honoring Chinese immigrants who worked on the railroad in the Santa Clarita Valley.

The Arts Commission meets the second Thursday of the month at 6:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 1st Floor of City Hall, 23920 Valencia Blvd., Santa Clarita, CA 91355.

To find all public art venues in Santa Clarita, visit https://santaclaritaarts.com/publicart/

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