Redwood City Expands Public Art within the Community

The City of Redwood City recognizes public art as a means for promoting vibrancy, defining cultural uniqueness, supporting economic development, building community, and improving the quality of life for those that live, work and play here. Council has recently adopted an ordinance that leads Redwood City towards its goal that “Redwood City is the place on the Peninsula to experience and enjoy visual, performing arts, and cultural events by 2030”.

A recently approved ordinance establishes a new Art in Public Places Fund to support public art in Redwood City. Monies from this fund may be used to procure publicly accessible, original works of art on City property or private property.

The decision to establish this program came from feedback from the Redwood City community. When asked what community members were looking for, public art was among the top 3 choices as part of the City’s community benefits (Partnership Redwood City) discussions.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

An ordinance was adopted that will reserve a 1% contribution be made to the Art in Public Places Fund from the City’s Capital Outlay Fund which is part of the City’s General Fund. This money may be used to fund public art upon approval.

Contributions from private development projects within Redwood City will also help grow this fund and/or provide public art. The approved ordinance requires any new commercial development projects over 50,000 square feet to provide publicly visible art on-site that is equal in value to at least 1% of the project’s construction valuation. In lieu of placing art on their project site, developers may choose to make a contribution to the Art in public Places fund equal to at least 1% of the project’s overall construction valuation. They may also provide publicly visible art on-site as well as paying an in lieu fee, as long as the total value of the art and fund contribution combined is equal to at least 1% of the project’s overall construction valuation.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PUBLIC ART

Many residents agree that public art is an investment in the community. “More public art will inspire more conversations, more conversations will deepen our connections to each other and to the city, deeper connections will strengthen our community,” said Jason Newblanc, an art advocate in the Redwood City community. “A stronger community will keep us safer, happier and healthier. This is an investment not only to our city, but to our community.”

Many community members agree that art can be seen as social commentary. Having public art gives a voice to our city that visitors can see. This leaves an impression of Redwood City on them, draws them here, and strengthens us as a community.

CURRENT PUBLIC ART IN REDWOOD CITY

If you have not yet explored Redwood City’s public art, start by searching for these unique pieces and projects around town. Pamela Estes, president of the Redwood City Parks and Arts Foundation mentioned, “Redwood City becoming a museum without walls.” Redwood City has many public art programs and projects that are already in place that make this statement true. With the adoption of this new ordinance we will only see more public art, adding to our growing “museum”.

Utility Box Murals: This new project was launched to help enhance the beauty and vibrancy of Redwood City as well as deter unsightly graffiti on utility boxes. The Utility Box Mural Pilot Program was launched earlier this year by choosing the top 10 most graffiti boxes in Redwood City. These boxes were located at Maple-Veterans, Chestnut-Middlefield, Main-Middlefield, Middlefield-Marshall, Veterans-Whipple, Shoreline Dr.-Redwood Shores Parkway, Winslow-Whipple, Twin Dolphin-Marine, and Chestnut-Spring. These boxes are either already painted or will be finished soon. When complete, each utility box will be beautifully painted with a unique scene. You may have already seen some of the completed ones decorated with flowers, starfish, or as a butterfly. Redwood City hopes to expand this program in the future and always welcomes sponsorships as well as referrals of artists.

Sidewalk & Shadow Art Project: You have probably seen some sidewalk shadow art while strolling the streets of Redwood City. This fun, community favorite project is sponsored by the Redwood City Improvement Association, a non-profit community benefit district that works to enhance Downtown Redwood City, in partnership with the Redwood City Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department. There are 20 eclectic, one-of-a-kind, shadow art pieces throughout Redwood City depicting images of animals, flowers, monsters, and more. You can find a few on the bike racks on Middlefield near the Courthouse Square, light posts on Broadway in front of Dragon Theater, benches by the post office off of Jefferson and more. A full map of pieces and their locations can be found here.

Commercial Way Mural Corridor: This project features a collection of beautifully hand painted murals that can be found on the back walls of a handful of businesses on Broadway. The backsides of these businesses face a parking lot where the train travels past. For many, this corridor can be seen as an entry point into the city, especially for those arriving by train. This project has helped to increase the charm and desirability of downtown for visitors and as a result our downtown has been thriving. To learn more about this project, watch this video.

Harambee: In 2015 the City of Redwood City launched a partnership with Fung Collaboratives to debut three works of functional art sponsored by the Redwood City Parks and Arts Foundation. This functional art will be for the community to sit on, use, and enjoy. Imagine artistically designed couches made for the outdoors of a park. The art created will be placed in three Redwood City parks including Andrew Spinas, Mariner, and Mezes. For more information about Harambee, watch this video.

Interactive Wall Art: This vibrant project is also funded by the Redwood City Improvement Association. This soon to come project will include painted images, scenes, or text on selected downtown Redwood City exterior building walls. The images will allow the viewer to interact and take photos with the art. The goal of these installations is to delightfully engage, wow visitors, and encourage them to explore more of downtown.

“Heron”: The “Heron” is another public art piece currently in the making. This sculpture is being beautifully crafted by artist, David Han. The sculpture is currently being finalized and will be placed at the Port of Redwood City in early September. This sculpture is a partnership between Sims Metal Management who donated the metal, the Port of Redwood City, ARTS RWC, TechShop, and the City of Redwood City’s Civic Cultural Commission and Public Art Task Force. Stay tuned for more details and announcements on the unveiling.

UPDATE: Go here to watch a time lapse video of the Heron being installed.

For a full map of Redwood City Public Art locations, go here.

LEARN MORE

There are many organizations influencing and embracing the arts in the community including the Civic Cultural Commission, Redwood City Parks and Arts Foundation, ARTS RWC, Public Art Task Force, Port of Redwood City, City Council, and the Redwood City Improvement Association. Redwood City is grateful to these organizations that have made it possible to have public art in our community. To learn more about Redwood City public art go here.

If you would like to view the Staff Report on the new Art in Public Places ordinance it can be found, here.