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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">

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

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