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Redding's Art in Public Places Program

07/25/2017 11:00AM ● By Jon Lewis

Artistic License

August 2017
By Jon Lewis
Photos by Manda Reed

City Hall is the three-story, 100,000-square-foot hub of Redding and home to the chairs, desks, computers, offices and workers required to keep tabs on a $300 million budget and keep a city of 90,000 people humming along.

What some may not realize is it’s also home to Redding’s largest art gallery, thanks to the city’s Art in Public Places program. Launched in 1998, the program is an organized bid to beautify the community, reflect its personality and encourage conversation, says Kim Niemer, Redding’s director of community services.

With more than 500 feet of gallery railing, City Hall is the largest venue for exhibiting artwork, but the program also includes the Redding Library and Sculpture Park on the grounds surrounding City Hall.

Other pieces have popped up in town, including Brian Tedrick’s “The Dancer” in front of Old City Hall; ceramic artist Colleen Barry’s “Mosaic Oasis” and “Mosaic Sanctuary,” both in Turtle Bay Exploration Park; William Mueller’s “Synergy #7” at the entrance to the Redding Library; and John Streeby’s metal salmon throughout the intersection of Cypress Avenue and Pine Street and in the Highway 44 median.

“Not everyone will like every piece, but we hope we can offer something in our collection that resonates,” she says. “I am always excited to see photos on social media, ads, senior portraits and many other instances where families and businesses have selected these artistic spaces as backgrounds for special moments.”

Brenna Bowers, the city’s art facilitator who oversees the exhibits in City Hall and the library, says the program’s mission “is to augment public spaces throughout the city with works of art ranging from paintings, murals and outdoor sculptures to functional works integrated into architecture and community infrastructure.” 

One goal is to transform public works projects into works of art and turn public areas from the commonplace “into sites reflecting the spirit of our dynamic community,” Bowers says. One noteworthy example, of course, is the Sundial Bridge.

Beginning this month, artists are invited to submit selections to be considered for the three City Hall exhibitions scheduled for 2018. The autumn showcase begins Sept. 7 and a reception to meet the artists, complete with live music and refreshments, will be held from 5 to 7 pm Friday, Sept. 22.

Since the program’s inception, Bowers says some 2,500 pieces from more than 250 artists have been exhibited. City Hall workers enjoy seeing their workplace transformed into an art space, Bowers says. “It kind of brings a lightness and a joy to the hallways,” she says. “It brings a little culture into a business environment that can be a little colder. It makes it a little bit more inviting.”

Michael Rizza, a 90-year-old sculptor who splits his time between Walnut Creek and Redding, has 13 pieces on display in City Hall’s current exhibit and thoroughly enjoys the opportunity to show off his work.

“It’s really gratifying to see all the people ask many questions,” Rizza says. “People hadn’t seen a lot of my contemporary work so they asked a lot of questions. It was a good experience for me.”

Despite being legally blind in one eye and 95 percent blind in the other, Rizza says he continues to create every day and is also showing his work at galleries in Palm Desert and Danville. He expects to have new works on display in City Hall next year, as well. “I’ve made some new friends up there and they’re eager to see my work,” he says.

Jim Phillips also is a fan of the Art in Public Places program, but the bulk of his work can be found outdoors. His latest piece is a “cloud column” sculpture in the middle of the roundabout at Shasta View Drive and Old Alturas Road, which was made possible by a grant from the Shasta Regional Community Foundation.

A former high school art teacher who went on to work as a state building inspector (thus the reason he likes to work with concrete), Phillips also has sculptures in place at the Redding Library (in collaboration with Paul Rideout and John Streeby) and Shasta College campuses in Redding and Red Bluff.

Phillips says all his work is donated and he gratefully acknowledges contributions from Nichols, Melburg & Rosetto, Redding Rancheria, Lowe’s, Home Depot and Redding Electric Utility for the donation of materials, equipment and engineering services. 

“My experience has been very good,” Phillips says. “The key to that program has been Kim Niemer and Brenna, who helps her, and before that it was Sarah Sheetz, who’s now at the airport. It’s been very good for me.” 

For details on submitting art, call (530) 225-4104 or email [email protected]