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Art in public places turns Lodi into an outdoor gallery

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Posted: Saturday, July 22, 2017 10:30 am

Lodi is a great place for art-lovers — and not just because of its Downtown art galleries, paint-and-sip classes and plein air events.

Thanks to the work of the Lodi Arts Commission, local business owners and nonprofit organizations, Lodi is also home to an outdoor art museum — murals, tile mosaics, sculptures and more that have been added over the past dozen years.

And the collection keeps growing.

The newest additions are a tile mosaic created at last year’s Sandhill Crane Festival, which can be found at the entrance to the Lodi Public Library, painted murals in the lobby and children’s wing of the library, and a mural painted by Lodi teens at the pollinator garden across from Hale Park.

They’ll soon by joined by one of the largest murals in Downtown Lodi, a 60-by-11-foot mural on the side of Tom’s Used Books on School Street.

On Thursday morning, Tom Kohlhepp was balanced on a moveable scaffolding, stroking blue paint onto the wall. He’s already sanded down any lumps and bumps, and filled in holes and deep grooves between bricks.

“There’s a lot of prep work, whether you’re painting a bathroom or you’re painting a mural,” he said with a smile.

He cracked open his sixth can of blue paint while talking about the planned mural. The sky blue will be the background for a scene from Cosumnes River Preserve, with woodlands near the sky, grasslands below, and wetlands at the bottom of the mural, closest to the viewer.

Samantha Morris has already sketched in fishing herons.

Kohlhepp has wanted a mural to decorate his building for a while, though it took some time to decide between the Cosumnes scene or a streetscape. Kohlhepp, an avid birder, eventually decided on the herons.

Then, he happened to mention his plan to the right person at the right time: Samantha Morris’ mother.

“Her mom was in the store and I was saying I was looking for an artist,” Kohlhepp said.

Morris, a teacher’s aide in Galt, just graduated from art school in San Francisco and was looking for a project. When Kohlhepp began describing his vision, she quickly grasped what he wanted to do, he said.

The two created some scale sketches — 60 by 11 inches — and then Morris cut them into strips and laminated them, so they’d be easier to use as reference while she works.

Because both Kohlhepp and Morris have other jobs to do, they’re not yet sure when the mural will be finished. They’re hoping it will be completed this fall, Kohlhepp said.

On Thursday, a heron held a splashing fish in its beak in a rough sketch. Kohlhepp was nearly finished with the blue background paint and the brown frame.

“It’s really shaping up,” he said.

Want to explore art in public places? Here’s a guide to Lodi’s murals, mosaics and more:

The Walldogs Murals

From May 26 to 29, 2006, dozens of artists from throughout the U.S. and Canada descended on Lodi, paints and brushes in hand, to transform the town. In three days, these “Walldogs” created 11 murals to commemorate Lodi’s Centennial. The murals all highlight moments in Lodi’s history.

  • “Farmers & Merchants Bank” by Jay Allen of Machesney Park, Ill. On the southwest corner of Elm and School streets.
  • “Lodi, A Century Past” by Noel Weber of Boise, Idaho. In the public parking lot at 15 W. Elm St.
  • “Breakfast of Walldogs” by Bill Masters of Lodi. In the alley entrance adjacent to 16 W. Elm St.
  • “Japantown Memories” by Tony Segale of Lodi. Buddhist Church of Lodi annex, 23 N. Stockton St.
  • “Central California Traction Company” by Mark Oatis of Henderson, Nev. On the Downtown Lodi Parking Garage on Sacramento and Pine streets.
  • “Historic Sacramento Street” by Tony Segale of Lodi. In the parking lot adjacent to 209 S. Sacramento St.
  • “The Tokay Carnival/Lodi Grape Festival” by Gary Andersen of Bloomington, Ind. On the northeast corner of Lodi Avenue and School Street.
  • “The Packing Shed” by Dan Sawatsky of British Columbia, Canada. On the northwest corner of Walnut and School streets.
  • “The Cucumis Club” by Nancy Bennett of Centerville, Iowa. 112 S. Church St.
  • “Chautauqua” by David Butler of Syracuse, Ind. In the parking lot adjacent to 110 W. Oak St.
  • “Hutchins Street Square Community Center” by Robin Wallenfang of Green Lake, Wis. 11 Church St.

The Sculptures of Rowland Cheney

The late Rowland Cheney, a Lodi sculptor who was known for his bronzes, created a number of works that can be seen around the city. St. Anne’s Catholic Church is currently raising money to cast one of his final sculptures before he passed away in 2015. The completed sculpture will be installed at the church plaza, which is open to the public.

  • “Leaving and Coming Home.” Lodi Transit Station, 24 S. Sacramento St.
  • “Celebrate the Harvest,” corner of Oak and School streets.
  • Sculpture of Mr. and Mrs. William Micke, Micke Grove Zoo, 11793 N. Micke Grove Road.

Traffic Box Art

Since 2011, Lodi artists have been turning unsightly and drab traffic control boxes into works of art in a variety of styles. From underwater seascapes to fields of California poppies to celebrations of Lodi wine, more than 20 of the artistic boxes now decorate Lodi and more are on the way. Here’s a sampling:

  • “Lodi wine industry, Lodi Lake” by Dario Gonzales and Brittany Pudwell. Turner Road and Mills Avenue.
  • “Self portrait” by Patti Wallace. Pine Street and Cherokee Lane.
  • “Dreamcatcher” by Natalie Magdaleno. Century Boulevard and Hutchins Street.
  • “Rooster” by Patti Wallace. Harney Lane and Reynolds Ranch Parkway.
  • “Candy” by Ethel Maharaj. Sacramento Street and Lodi Avenue.
  • “Bicycle” by Alexa Joerke. Turner Road and Stockton Street.
  • “A Ship Against the Moon” by Brittany Wait. Fairmont and Lodi avenues.
  • “Koi Fish” by Patti Wallace. Hale Road and Cherokee Lane.
  • “Vines and Grapes” by Ethel Maharaj. Beckman Road and Kettleman Lane.
  • “Streetscape” by Katie May Hoy. Church and Lockeford streets.
  • “California Poppies” by Michelle Martinez. Lower Sacramento Road and Vine Street.
  • “Gumballs” by Ethel Maharaj. Crescent and Lodi avenues.
  • “Parrots” by Patti Wallace. Lower Sacramento Road and Century Boulevard.

Other Public Artwork

  • A sprawling mural depicting the history of San Joaquin County was completed in 2000 by a group of high school volunteers, guided by Suzanne Kennedy and the firm Artistic Effects. It adorns the wall of the PG&E substation at Cherokee Lane and Victor Road.
  • A series of murals painted by Suzanne Kennedy and Liberty High School students and installed at the entry to the Lodi Lake Nature Area depict the Mokelumne River watershed from the Sierra Nevadas to San Francisco Bay. 1101 W. Turner Road.
  • The PALS mural, by Tony Segale, features playing puppies and kittens. It is mounted on the Lodi Animal Shelter. 1405 W. Kettleman Lane.
  • Segale also painted a series of murals depicting Lodi history inside the Lodi Transit Station, 24 S. Sacramento St.
  • “Sacrifice and Resolution,” by Colorado sculptor John Kobald, honors local veterans near the entrance of Micke Grove Park, 11793 N. Micke Grove Road.
  • “Better Days,” by Jerrod Mays, is a decorative bus station covering built from steel. 215 E. Lodi Ave.
  • “Grape Wall of Lodi,” by Susan Dannenfelser and Kirk Beck, is a mosaic wall celebrating Lodi agriculture. It is on the corner of Westgate Drive and Kettleman Lane.
  • “Great Blue Heron Bench” was created by Lodi community members, guided by the team from Davis Rock Art, and the Downtown Lodi Farmers Market. The bench is installed near a river-friendly demonstration garden outside of the Lodi Post Office, 120 S. School St.
  • “The Wave” by Joanie Selman-Prince. The tile mosaic depicting skateboarding teens is at Van Buskirk Park at Daisy and North Pleasant avenues.
  • “Lodi Lake” by Suzanne Kennedy and the students from Liberty High School. The mural depicts wildlife at the lake. It’s in the parking lot near Guild Cleaners, 17 Church St.
  • Teen volunteers with the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce and Greening Lodi created a large mural celebrating Lodi agriculture and farmworkers at the corner of Elm and Main streets, across from Hale Park, at this year’s Love Lodi event.
  • The Lodi Public Library is home to several works of art. “Book Worm,” a decorative bike rack created by Jerrod Mays, is west of the library’s entrance on Locust Street. On the brick wall left of the entrance is a mural created by visitors to the 2016 Sandhill Crane Festival, guided by the Davis Rock Art team. Inside the lobby is a mural of sandhill cranes, and the walls of the children’s section are covered by a bright, agricultural-themed mural donated by Leadership Lodi. 201 W. Locust St.
  • Project Lodi Art hosted several mosaic workshops in 2010 and 2011, resulting in a series of tile designs that were installed in the sidewalk on East Lodi Avenue, starting at Main Street and heading eastward.

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