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Lodi's artistic surge

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Posted: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 10:00 pm

In these difficult economic times people are apt to put off or delay many things. Big ticket and luxury items often are the first things to be cut. Scaling back and cutting expenditures is given increased importance - the city of Lodi is no different.

It is in this light that the arts community in Lodi has endured and had to fight for relevance. In spite of operating on a shoestring budget, Lodi has, over the last two to three years, managed to make significant gains in its artistic accomplishments. While this shouldn't exactly be called an artistic "Renaissance," the city deserves to be lauded for these achievements. Most, I would think, would say that this has come as a very pleasant surprise.

The once-drab Downtown water tower is now beautifully embellished with the city logo. Many Downtown walls are now adorned with no less beautiful murals, a huge step forward for city beautification. The recentlycompleted gateway mosaic on the corner of Kettleman Lane and Gateway Drive makes for a fine first impression for those entering the city from the West.

These accomplishments did not just happen spontaneously. Many dedicated and passionate people working together for the betterment of the community helped make these projects come to fruition. Without various City Councils signing off and appropriating funds, these projects might not have happened. The Lodi Arts Commission has done a wonderful job of organizing and moving these projects along. The Lodi Arts Advisory Board and the Arts in Public Places Program have both done great work as well.

The Project Lodi Art Sidewalk Design Competition is the latest artistic endeavor being supported by the Lodi Arts Commission. This project intends to allow Lodi-area artists to design and submit artwork which may be included in the Lodi Avenue Improvement Project. The mosaic art concept is also expected to be incorporated into future parks projects, as mosaic art has been shown to be less prone to vandalism.

The artwork will be created as mosaics built into the sidewalk at or near the intersection of Lodi Avenue and Central Avenue.

The artwork must be relative to Lodi and its surrounding areas. Yes, many grape-type themes are expected to be submitted, but there is certainly no limit to the ideas that can potentially be exploited to create your own personal masterpiece. The tentative deadline for submitting artwork is Jan. 31, with actual construction scheduled to begin early this spring, in concert with the Lodi Avenue Improvement Project.

Entry forms are available at just about all public buildings in Lodi, including Hutchins Street Square and City Hall, or can be downloaded at www.lodiarts.org.

With the top 24 entries to be included in the project and only about 14 entries submitted to date, the chances of your submission being included in this small part of Lodi history look pretty good. Lodi Arts Committee member Mark Hamilton, a mosaic artist in his own right, has let it be known that the committee is "recruiting on every level to move this project forward." Lodi Arts Program coordinator Diane Amaral has said, "This is a fabulous opportunity for those interested to become a part of Lodi history"

Businesses or volunteers wishing to be a part of this project by donating materials, money, time and/or energy may be rewarded by being recognized on plaques on or about the project.

For more information on how you can help, contact Mark Hamilton at 405-0212 or Lodi Arts Program coordinator Diane Amaral at 333-5511. J. Kurt Roberts can be reached at jkurtroberts@sbcglobal.net.

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Welcome to the discussion.

7 comments:

  • posted at 4:35 am on Sat, Jan 10, 2009.

    Posts:

    Mr. Roberts. I was happy to read an article about the surge of arts in Lodi, however I would like to mention a Lodi arts organization that has been in existence for over 65 years- the Lodi Community Art Center. This is an organization which promotes the visual arts in the community. The LCAC contributes to student art education with the award of college scholarships each year in conjunction with the Spring Art Show held at Woodbridge Winery. This show has been presented yearly for well over 40 years. (maybe close to 50, I lose count) This art show draws artists from our local area and in surrounding areas - a regional show. The Art Center has a high school art gallery which changes each month featuring the work of different art students in the Lodi area. Classes are offered for children and adults. The LCAC has its own art gallery to showcase the work of members. It is staffed entirely by volunteers. The Art Center is a nonprofit organization which is in need of the recognition and patronage of community members. It is truly a valuable community asset.

     
  • posted at 4:21 am on Sat, Jan 10, 2009.

    Posts:

    Art is important to everyone and every community. Art connects us to our humanity, our creative spirit, the human need for a life beyond necessity, something to enhance our lives. Art provides a spark. Tony Segale worked for years gathering support and raising funds from individual businesses to create the Walldogs mursla. The people involved were part of the Walldogs group, professional artists working as a group to paint murals in various U.S. towns. Remember what those buildings looked like before the murals were painted.

     
  • posted at 3:40 am on Sat, Jan 10, 2009.

    Posts:

    Peek, as long as it's government funded money, you can guarantee it'll be wasted. That's just the common practice, not only in Lodi, but every city in the US that gets money for the arts. I'm just disappointed that so much of this funding goes for senseless murals rather than art projects in parks and public places for all to enjoy. All those murals downtown were meant for tourist attraction and to do something with those buildings that are falling apart. Murals should be projects shared by all talented Lodi artists, not some transplants from all over the US. I know two young Lodi artists that would've loved to be a part of painting that mural, but they weren't even considered for the "Walldogs project" that brought the same kind of people here that we could've easily provided. Please, no more $48,000 or greater murals unless it's a community project involving local and student artists. How can a small mural cost $48,000? All these so called brilliant council and management people and no one has an answer? Wonder why?

     
  • posted at 3:26 am on Fri, Jan 9, 2009.

    Posts:

    Many view spending this much money for art during this economic crisis is foolish and wasteful. I don't know how leaders can talk about layoffs and furloughs and in the next breath want money for public art. If someone can barely afford a mortgage, should they go out and redecorate one of their rooms? Of course not because it would be economically foolish. When I hear our leaders talking about spending money we do not have for art, I get a sick feeling in my stomach. It's just a slap in the face to the City employees whose jobs are threatened. Basically, public art is more important than someone's job. It doesn't matter if an employee's family is economically hurt by councils decisions as long as they continue to maintain the perception that all is beautiful by their wonderful leadership. Once this economy stabilizes, the City is fully staffed, and a reserve is built, then spend it art and programs to beautify the city. But that would take some common sense and courage to do something like that, both of which do not exist in our council.

     
  • posted at 6:52 am on Thu, Jan 8, 2009.

    Posts:

    Kurt, it's about time some of that arts funding goes to projects like these. I say no more overpriced murals and let these projects go to these same type endeavors that involve local artists in group themes, such as the tile project. I can't figure out for the life of me why local muralist reaped $48,000 for the tiny mural on the eastside. I've been asking local artists how they'd justify spending that much and most say they could be done for around $5000. Please, arts commission, show us the justification for that 48K mural? And will he be granted the other 75K or so to do the second mural in the alley that councilman Johnson so adamantly rejected because of its location? Both murals came in a package deal, about 125K, but thanks to councilman Johnson, he voted for the first one which was approved for 48K and and recommended that the second be brought back to council at a later date for approval, due to the city not knowing if that alley mural was a real good idea. These mural projects need to be a group project with talented Lodians sharing in both the pleasure and the profits

     
  • posted at 6:35 am on Thu, Jan 8, 2009.

    Posts:

    Please give me a 48K grant for a mural. I could go and sub it out for 10K and put 38K in my pocket for a nifty profit. Or is this how it works after the facts?

     
  • posted at 6:33 am on Thu, Jan 8, 2009.

    Posts:

    Kurt, it's about time some of that arts funding goes to projects like these. I say no more overpriced murals and let these projects go to these same type endeavors that involve local artists in group themes, such as the tile project. I can't figure out for the life of me why Mr. Segale reaped $48,000 for the tiny mural on the eastside. I've been asking local artists how they'd justify spending that much and most say they could be done for around $5000. Please, arts commission, show us the justification for that 48K mural? And will he be granted the other 75K or so to do the second mural in the alley that councilman Johnson so adamantly rejected because of its location? Both murals came in a package deal, about 125K, but thanks to councilman Johnson, he voted for the first one which was approved for 48K and and recommended that the second be brought back to council at a later date for approval, due to the city not knowing if that alley mural was a real good idea. These mural projects need to be a group project with talented Lodians sharing in both the pleasure and the profits.

     

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