Koalas in the eucalyptus trees??? In downtown San Jose??? This was the reaction of Colleen Wilcox, then Chair of the Los Gatos Arts Commission, several years ago as she was walking down the median on San Carlos Street and happened to look up into the foliage. The sense of discovery and wonder made her think that this quixotic display of public art would be just the thing for Los Gatos. And what more appropriate object to choose than cats?
Colleen related her experience to the Arts Commission and the group was enthusiastic from the start. A selection committee was formed, a web site for public artists was found, and a list of priorities for the critters was established. The sculptures should be light weight enough not to damage the trees, nor to seriously harm anyone should they fall. They should be in 3D form, and each different from the rest. The design should include a means of affixing them to the trees which would be flexible enough to allow for growth of the trees, they should be mounted high enough to discourage vandalism and they should be constructed of a material so that their life expectancy would be at least 10 years.
After a long and exacting bid process the artists, Solomon Bassoff and his wife Domenica Mottarell from Grass Valley, were selected because of their belief in the aims and goals of the Art Commission which were that the display should inspire the wonder of discovery, be whimsical, and that it should elicit a personal experience. Installation took place in 2014. The trees along Santa Cruz Ave. from Main Street to Bachman on both sides of the street were chosen for the first 10 cats to inhabit. There is not a cat in every tree, which makes it challenging to find one, and they are not all exactly the same color and they are not exactly in the same position. Sometimes they are hard to spot----you have to look carefully. The second phase of the installation is planned for cats in trees along Main Street.
After a year, a survey was taken and the results showed that many people didn’t know about the installation, some said the cats were too hard to see or too small or too high in the trees. Consideration is now being given to slightly larger and more colorful cats and there are several plaques to identify some treed cats.
But as word spreads, the Cat Walk has gained popularity. It has been used for the subjects for Treasure Hunts, grandparents make a game of it for visiting grandchildren, local merchants love it when a cat is in a tree in front of their establishment. If you walk along Santa Cruz Avenue and see someone or a group pointing up to the sky, you have come upon seekers of cats. One woman, upon seeing a group looking up, asked if anyone had called the Fire Department to rescue the cat.
The cultural advantage of public art is to educate and inspire the community, to delight the senses and stretch the imagination. The Cat Walk in Los Gatos does just that.
Be sure to make your own discoveries along Santa Cruz Avenue next time you’re in downtown ...
Faducci received final approval from the Frisco, Texas Art Board for the design for Pearson Acres Park. In tribute to the Pearson Dairy Farm and the Pearson family Faducci has designed a sculpture depicting a life-sized Holstein dairy cow with milking stool. A Cottontail Rabbit wearing Mr. Pearson’s trademark red suspenders and cap is shown kissing noses with the cow. A group of multi-colored Irises will be clumped behind the rabbit. The design of the sculpture is intended to reflect the legacy of the land that housed the dairy farm, Mr. Pearson and the Pearson family, and the surrounding wildlife. Depicting the Cottontail Rabbit in jeans, suspenders and the red cap are to acknowledge Mr. Pearson’s daily work and dress in a whimsical manner. The sculpture itself will provide plenty of interaction for kids, teens and adults as well as photo opportunities. Our goal is to create a memorial to Mr. Pearson, his dairy and family homestead that will provide a gathering place for visitors. ...