Obelisk for Temescal Entry? Installation Has Been Halted

June 8, 2014

Culture, Outdoors, Streets

Update: The Temescal BID has agreed to halt installation and meet with local stakeholders (editor)
The Temescal Telegraph Business Improvement District (TTBID) has designed and is in the process of implementing a huge gateway sign/sculpture for the Temescal Neighborhood. There was no open, competitive process for selecting an artist and the community was not engaged in any step of the design process.
Slated to be installed on the site of the drive-through coffee shop at 52nd and Shattuck, so as to be visible to those entering and exiting the freeway or driving under the overpass there, the sign will be a 20 foot obelisk in bright colors that perplexingly clash with the Temescal Flows Mural by Alan de Leon that they recently invested so much money in.
Sign a petition to the “decision makers” here, and also tell Councilmember Dan Kalb to stop it.
The intended sign (or sculpture?) seems totally out of step with the feel of our neighborhood which features some of the best of the Bay Area’s fine dining, local, artisan shops, galleries and tasteful gems like Sagrada.
One might wonder why the TTBID would choose to develop “in house” such a major, permanent installation when there are so many talented artists and designers in Oakland and right here in Temescal that they could have called upon.
One might even ask why we need another large, public artwork announcing the Temescal Neighborhood there, when the mural, which cost 90k to implement and developed out of a public, competitive selection process, already accomplishes that.
Many feel that there is already enough “visual clutter” at that location and also resist the TBID’s efforts to brand the neighborhood, which speaks for itself. I would rather see more plantings, or even a tree in the location than a distracting large sign.
Regardless of what goes there, I feel strongly that when designing something that will brand the neighborhood permanently, more people should be involved than just the TTBID and its immediate volunteers – and when implementing public art (even if installed on private property), there should be a competitive, public process for selecting the artist/design.
Such a process would not only yield a work that more effectively reflects the neighborhood, it would protect us all, including the artist, from unwanted controversies such as the one this proposed sign has elicited. It most certainly would have resulted in a “gateway” more worthy of this incredibly creative and thriving neighborhood.
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About Suzanne L'Heureux

Suzanne is an artist, art historian, owns Interface Gallery in Temescal Alley and is a member of Temescal Creek Cohousing. She also coordinates the Temescal Street Cinema.

View all posts by Suzanne L'Heureux

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