Livable, loveable Lodi took on a new meaning recently, when Project Lodi Art received a City Livability Award from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The public art mosaic project went up against 230 entries from around the country.
Mayor Bob Johnson submitted the project because it makes Lodi unique.
“It’s a testament to the people who thought up the project and the people of Lodi who put their time and talent to make the mosaics. They are all handmade and it was a labor of love,” he said.
For the past 32 years, the national organization has given out the awards to “honor mayors and their city governments for developing programs that enhance the quality of life in urban areas,” according to the organization’s website.
There was one winner and six outstanding achievement awards. Lodi and three other cities received honorable mention citations.
Officials said this is the first time the city has applied for the award.
“It costs only a stamp to apply,” Johnson said.
He was surprised the city was selected because of the number of projects submitted.
“One of the other communities we were in contention with was Boca Raton, Fla., which is one of the wealthiest cities in the nation. We are playing with some pretty big people and lo and behold, we won of the award,” Johnson said.
Project Lodi Art started in 2010 when 200 volunteers worked on 24 mosaics that were embedded in the sidewalks of Lodi Avenue.
Earlier this year, Liberty High School students and volunteers helped put together a skateboard mosaic to be displayed on a 42-foot long concrete wall at Van Buskirk Park.
All of the money for both projects came from donations and from the city’s Art in Public Places fund, which is earmarked solely for public arts projects.
It is an honor to have the city’s project be selected, especially because it is a new and novel idea, said Diane Amaral, Project Lodi Art program coordinator.
“It just gives a boost to the community members, the hundreds of hours that were donated and to know you have a piece of artwork somewhere that is recognized nationally,” Amaral said.
Johnson hopes the mosaic project continues because it is another selling point for Lodi.
“It is something we can point out to people when they come to Lodi. We have our art, our statues and now we are in the mosaic business,” Johnson said.