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Approachable art placed downtown

Original post made on Apr 5, 2010

If you've walked down Main Street in the last few days, you may have noticed some interesting characters.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, April 5, 2010, 7:02 AM

Comments (54)

Posted by Downtown Resident, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 5, 2010 at 8:44 am

They look hideous... I feel like a live in a downtown that is ran and/or designed by amateur. Take note from great small downtowns such as Palo Alto, Mountain View, Danville, Livermore.

Posted by Pleasanton Resident, a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Apr 5, 2010 at 8:46 am

I like the artwork. Quirky and interesting. It's art that, whether you like it or not, makes you think.

Posted by Pleasantonian, a resident of Mission Park
on Apr 5, 2010 at 8:53 am

Pleasantonian is a registered user.

"They look hideous... I feel like a live in a downtown that is ran and/or designed by amateur. Take note from great small downtowns such as Palo Alto, Mountain View, Danville, Livermore."

You've got to be kidding! We think they are fabulous and
hope they are here for a while.

Posted by Pleasanton resident, a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 5, 2010 at 8:57 am

They are strange and out of date. My wife and I hope they are not permanent.

Posted by pleasanton resident, a resident of Parkside
on Apr 5, 2010 at 9:14 am

I like them and think it's great Pleasanton brought in an art exhibit for downtown no matter how you feel about it. Nothing wrong with a little bit of interesting art to give us something to talk about. My five-year-old got a kick out of finding each of them on a nice, leisurely stroll along Main Street.

Posted by resident /Autumn Glen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2010 at 9:17 am

I LOVE this art! I think this could be the beginning of a new identity for Pleasanton. I saw a similar thing happen to Loveland, Colorado. There are sculpture parks in Loveland and it's been very
good for an otherwise, not very sophisticated,little town. I think these sculptures are amazing and I can't wait to learn more about the artist, Seward Johnson!

Posted by Gary Schwaegerle, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 5, 2010 at 9:19 am

Gary Schwaegerle is a registered user.

Perhaps some warped metal or damage fender mounted on a pole, with various colors of paint dumped on them would make people happy? Or; NO so called ART is acceptable to those complaining? Please be specific in your Ideas for Improvement - Variety has been the Spice of Life - No? Or be BOLD enough to Identify yourselves to take the stand U doo. The ART is GREAT! This weekend you could watch the People interact with them - sit or stand have pictures taken with, people were looking at them having a fun time; in Our Beautiful Downtown the Heart of Pleasanton. As I drove up Main Street there were so many people some standing or sitting, you had to take a double look to see if they weren't a statue. Cheers Gary Schwaegerle

Posted by Curt Anderson, a resident of Castlewood
on Apr 5, 2010 at 9:37 am

I agree with Gary - the art is terrific. Yesterday we drove down Main Street and saw people getting their photo taken with one of the sculptures, at another people were smiling and interacting - people were having fun. I haven't had the chance to walk up and look at them closely but I certainly will.

Posted by Randy Randleman, a resident of Mission Park
on Apr 5, 2010 at 9:39 am

I saw those last week, the Fisherman at the bridge is very nice, looks so natural there. I have then enjoyed seeing the different ones throughout the downtown, makes it more fun to go through town. I am sure it will be a hit to those that can open their eyes and see the beauty and attraction of this.

"Take note from great small downtowns such as Palo Alto, Mountain View, Danville, Livermore." Give me a break here, Ptown downtown is as good or better than any of these. Thank you for bringing the artwork in and letting us all share in it.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2010 at 10:04 am

I think they're creepy looking. Sorry.

Posted by ptownright, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 5, 2010 at 10:07 am

ptownright is a registered user.

As a resident of the downtown area I love them and hope they stay for awhile. I don't think they should be permanent, but for now, a very nice touch.

I worry though about how much respect people will give them as the summer season kicks off. I would hate to see them vandalized during one of the summer gatherings.

Posted by Nosy Neighbors, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 5, 2010 at 10:20 am

Couldn't disagree with the naysayers any more. IMHO the figures all seem to represent a segment of life, local flavor & heritage of this town in a very positive, whimsical manner. They're certainly unique, well constructed & yes, maybe a tad bit eerily lifelike (I keep expecting the window washer to walk & move to another window) but otherwise a great way to prep the downtown citizenry for the opening of the new Firehouse Arts Center.

Do not fear the introduction of a little culture to our town.

Posted by Karen, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 5, 2010 at 10:48 am

I really like them. They are interesting and were the main reason I was downtown 2 times yesterday. More traffic, hopefully more shoppers for the Downtown Assoc.

Does anyone know if they are costing our city any $$?

Posted by Lynn Gatehouse, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Apr 5, 2010 at 10:48 am

How refreshing that people are using this Forum to discuss art! Thank you, Seward Johnson, for sharing your artwork with the people of Pleasanton.

Posted by Normie, a resident of Dublin
on Apr 5, 2010 at 10:55 am

I feel very sorry for people who have no imagination! I saw the sculpters in a group when they first arrived. I got such a good feeling in my heart. I love all kinds of art and these made me happy. I believe the few who complain just have no sense of adventure in their lives or minds. So sad!

Posted by Sheila, a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Apr 5, 2010 at 11:30 am

I just noticed them yesterday as we drove through downtown. I can't wait to take a walk and get a closer look. I think they're great, it was fun to try and spot them as we drove through town.

I look forwrd to reading more about the artist Seward Johnson.

Posted by Elaine, a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 5, 2010 at 11:39 am

I love the art work downtown! It gives Pleasanton a lift and more people were walking taking pictures of them, sitting with them. I think its great for the children to see that art comes in all different ways, shapes and ideas. I had a so much fun walking and finding the next one. Good for you P town... I hope they stay for a very long time!

Posted by susan, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I love it...great attraction. I saw a lot of people talking, walking and taking pictures. There were a lot of young kids giggling. I love it!

Posted by Dave Ferguson, a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 5, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Which is your favorite? We were driving south on main on saturday night and my wife thought it odd that someone would be washing windows so late at the Kolln hardware, i saw him in the rear view window, explained to my wife that when the business is closed would naturally be the best time for them to clean the windows! We found out from my Mom on Easter about the statues! What a laugh we had, confirmed that when going home sunday night, he hadn't moved! This is one of those stories every time we look at old Kolln's, we will remmeber the window washer. Good job Pleasanton, this is actually art that my family can enjoy!

Posted by Marilyn, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Apr 5, 2010 at 1:57 pm

I just discovered them this weekend, but have not seen them all. I think it is a wonderful idea....and look at all the discussion they generate. I'm only sorry we don't have any permanent ones!

Posted by Claudia Hess, a resident of Birdland
on Apr 5, 2010 at 2:00 pm

We are glad so many enjoy the Seward Johnson Sculptures- we timed it so that it will lead up to the grand opening of the Firehouse Cultural Arts Center and so that school kids will be able to involve it into their curriculum! This money has been in City of Pleasanton's public art account for many years- and we are using a small portion to fund this interactive temporary sculpture show. We (the Civic Arts Commission) take being stewards of the public's money extremely seriously.
Art stirs emotions- so if you have an opinion- that's exactly what we're looking for! Take a look up close and look at the clothing textures and details like hand hemmed pants(!) and you'll be thinking about these people's stories.
The teenagers have already "gotten it" they're having a ball interacting with these sculptures. I now challenge you to find the hand hemmed pants- enjoy!
Claudia Hess, Civic Arts Commissioner

Posted by mary morgenroth, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 5, 2010 at 2:35 pm

I love the art work around Pleasanton, it makes me feel happy.

Posted by M, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Slightly weired and spooky ... but art needs a resurgence in Pleasanton so I'm all for weird and spooky and abstract expressionism and other forms of "real art" ... please no more photo-esque art on the vineyards or the yellow mountains.

Posted by Ange, a resident of West of Foothill
on Apr 5, 2010 at 5:26 pm

I love the idea of adding art. Unfortunately, this art looks like it was picked up at a yard sale. The figures, the way they are dressed and the colors used, looked like something out of the early 60's era. Wondering if the artist's inspiration was a scene from the movie "Back to the Future?" The off-white colored platforms they are mounted on indicates the artist's lack of any attempt of realism. Sorry...I am quite embarrassed to see them in the town I call home.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Apr 5, 2010 at 5:37 pm

for those of you that don't like art, i recommend that you never give up your dreams to be fake...tee hee hee, tee hee hee...

Posted by M, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Aside from Cholo and his dream of fake-ness ... Truly we, as a town, reflecting achievement, high end thinking, an aspiration of something good ... we should embrace art ... so what if this exhibit didn't hit the big time ... will art ever hit everyone in the center of acceptance ... not if art does its job it won't ... art is like music ... it soothes political roughness and gives us a reason to bond as neighbors ... MORE ART IN PLEASANTON!!!!!!

Posted by John, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 5, 2010 at 6:39 pm

This is chochky work at best that IMO doesn't represent the quality nature of Pleasanton and its downtown. Let the work be put on sale at a gallery or other venue where it may be appreciated by people that may have interest in it.

Posted by Maria, a resident of Fairlands Elementary School
on Apr 5, 2010 at 7:31 pm

We love them!

Downtown needs some new life and this is adding a little spark to it. With businesses closing downtown - we need to be innovative and keep "P-Town" the place everyone still wants to hang-out at.


Pleasantonians for Life

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Apr 5, 2010 at 8:56 pm the sneaky I so afray of you...i don't experience the art as either spooky or "weired"? wha chu mean "weired"? duh...

the M can't spell...tee hee hee, tee hee hee...

whas astrak espreshism? hmmmmmmm...

tee hee hee, tee hee hee..

Posted by It's a good start, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Yes, so what if the sculptures are more on the old-fashioned, realistic-yet-creepy side? I agree that they're a VERY good first step to bringing accessible art back to Pleasanton and the downtown area. With the promise of some fun and different thing to experience, I managed to cajole my husband away from the TV this weekend and go for a drive, then walk up and back down Main Street to look at the artwork. I had heard that there was one on the Neal side street, so we took a slight detour, stopped at Meadowlark Dairy on foot for a rare treat of an ice cream cone, then walked to the bridge to view the fisherman and back down to where we had parked on Old Bernal Ave. And I'm sure we weren't the only ones to do something similar.

As I said, a good, no, Great start! Let's keep events and attractions like this coming, through our participation and support.

Posted by It's a good start, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Oh, and yes, I'm with "M", for sure, on the topic of Bad Art In Galleries Around Town. If there's one thing that we could pass on, it's one more bigger-than-life engorged bunch of grapes on a canvas to be placed over someone's wet bar or a faux-artistic tinting of a watercolor of a vineyard with a wine glass superimposed... ugh!

Posted by LOVE IT!, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 6, 2010 at 9:01 am

They are fun! I like the window washer!!

Posted by Cindy, a resident of Danbury Park
on Apr 6, 2010 at 9:27 am

We love the sculptures. I saw the man fishing last Weds. when picking up our dogs from VIP Pet Grooming. I thought he was real, it wasn't until Thursday morning's newspaper that I found out about the collection. The 2 kids outside the drive-thru are great. The soldier and son across from the Museum really capture the spirit of our country at war. The woman with the groceries outside the wine cellar is life-like.

What a great idea to draw people to hte downtown area! Kudos

Posted by Claudia Hess, a resident of Birdland
on Apr 6, 2010 at 9:30 am

Here is a link to the flyer explaining where walking maps are to be located ...
Web Link

Most businesses that have sculptures in front of them will have maps...
Anyone found the hand hemmed pants yet? Have fun.

Posted by Nosy Neighbors, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 6, 2010 at 9:53 am

Art, by it's very definition should be subjective & therefore elicit a different response & reaction by everyone who views it. We're not talking about something that is highly controversial here, there's no crucifix's floating in urine, 200 foot long spoon with a cherry in them or miles of blue ribbon lining the hills & local vineyards.

If you want to nit-pick things just tell me HOW that old woman managed to walk all the way back from Stoneridge Mall with a Talbots bag & all her other groceries?

Posted by Cher, a resident of Happy Valley
on Apr 6, 2010 at 10:03 am

If the old woman is anything like most older women, she'll be using her Talbot bag over and over again. I love the art work.

Posted by Alice, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 6, 2010 at 11:06 am

The sculptures are here until June 30th. I knew about them, but my husband didn't and the day they were set up he came home commenting that he couldn't believe someone was fishing at the Arroyo! That's how lifelike they look. I think they're great. By the way, the starting price of them is $80,000! They are bronze and each one takes about a year to make. Each one weighs several hundred pounds.

Posted by resident, a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Apr 6, 2010 at 12:01 pm

All art should evoke an emotion. We do not all like the same people or the same books OR the same art. But like it or not, one should be able to appreciate the skill it took to create it. Have the detractors examined, up close, the authentic textures of the paper and cloth? The life-like features of the faces? And, as for Pleasanton not being up to snuff with other small towns, here is an exert listing some places J. Seward Johnson's sculptures are displayed.

"Johnson is also known for his life sized sculptures of ordinary people in contemporary life situations. These sculptures have been placed in public settings throughout the world, including Double Check, which depicts a businessman sitting on a bench going through his briefcase. Located on New York City's Liberty Street near the World Trade Center, it has since become an impromptu memorial. Other sites where sculptures by J. Seward Johnson can be found are at Rockefeller Center in New York City, Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver, Canada, and in Washington, D.C. Johnson has also shown his work in exhibits in Asia, Mexico, and throughout Europe."

Not bad company for Pleasanton! Appreciate the skill, decide you don't like it and think about why you don't like it. Explore how he might have achieved the textures. Wait with anticipation for the next temporary exhibit that you might love.

I hope we continue to have exhibits like this - even ones that I may not care for. The number of people that are downtown checking this out has been fabulous. Things like this are what makes a great small town.

And for those who just think art is just a waste of money, period, stay home and watch cage fighting and drink beer. I know, that was uncalled for, but I couldn't resist!

Posted by M, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 6, 2010 at 8:29 pm

I was at the stop sign at Gay Nineties on Saturday and two young children with their father caught my eye~ they were admiring one of the sculptures. It was a really neat moment, and I was delighted to see more sculptures as I drove up Main St. Creating memories is what it's all about.

It's OK if you don't like them. I don't like all art, but I appreciate art for expression and I enjoy others enjoying it.

Posted by Joyce Shapiro, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Apr 7, 2010 at 6:48 am

I am amazed by some of the negative comments regarding the public art project downtown. My family and I have been very involved in the downtown area since the 60's. I have never seen anything generate so much excitment as this project. The figures are represenative of life, they appeal to all ages, they generate conversation and bring attention to our great downtown area.

Posted by Linda Garbarino, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 7, 2010 at 3:32 pm

These displays of art indicate that our city has an interest in fine art and like Palo Alto with Brown's whimsical human and alien paintings on the sides of many buildings, they entertain and delight many people who enjoy visiting and supporting the downtown. Our Seward Johnson art show is only temporary, and delightful to observe. Hope to see more art featured in the future.

Posted by You're Funny Roberta, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 7, 2010 at 8:43 pm

If you watched the local news last night, Pleasanton resident and weather person Roberta Gonzales was hilarious as they showed this 'old lady statue' in the background and Roberta running in fright off the set. That's exactly how I feel about these creepy works of art. But that's art; it's supposed to illicit some feeling or emotion, including fear! ha!

Posted by MickH, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2010 at 5:58 am

I'm afraid I don't call this stuff 'art'. Public attraction maybe, oddity perhaps, but art? Not on your Nelly.

These are well crafted mannequins that say nothing new or meaningful about the human condition.

I prefer Christesen's horse. It doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is.



Posted by Not a fan, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2010 at 7:42 am

Some of them look CREEPY!!! The one in front of Gay 90's caught my eye and I couldn't believe how morbid it looked! The other ones further down Main Street are much better looking. I LOVE the idea of artwork downtown but, no offense to the artist, some of these just look downright weird! I'm glad they aren't permanent!!

Posted by Chris, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Why are you surprised by the negative comments Joyce? Art has always generated all types of different opinions and we should welcome those comments different than ours. I personally love the sculptures, but know there are those in town who have the exact opposite opinion.

Posted by JR, a resident of Danbury Park
on Apr 9, 2010 at 12:19 am

After hearing about the art on this posting, my husband and I took our 6 year old granddaughter to look at them. We all enjoyed them and loved watching peoples reaction to the art. They brought a smile to most people that were checking them out. It is great to see more art in this area.

Posted by MainStreetDiva, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 9, 2010 at 10:25 am

MainStreetDiva is a registered user.

We love these! It's fun to watch residents check them out and have their photos taken with these 'people,' especially the kids and families. These sculptures get people walking around downtown, trying to find the rest of them. Complete strangers end up chatting with each other, comparing notes on their favorite ones and where they are located.

Any 'art' that gets people downtown, chatting with neighbors (and possible even shopping in the stores while there!) is, to me, a good thing.

Posted by Mildred, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2010 at 2:13 pm

I see a lot of Latino, Asian and Indian people when I walk around Pleasanton, but so far all the statues I've seen on Main St. are of white people.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Apr 9, 2010 at 6:50 pm

so what?

Posted by Rick, a resident of Parkside
on Apr 10, 2010 at 1:39 pm

LOVE the artwork.....

Walked around to all of them and they are really amazing. To look across the street at the window washer - wow - he looks so real. The detail is well done.

I am glad they will be around until the end of June.

Posted by Frank, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 15, 2010 at 1:01 pm

It would be nice if we traded some artwork with our sister cities. Share some culture, you know.

Web Link

Posted by John, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 15, 2010 at 3:24 pm

So no one has a problem with the fact that these cost the city, oh wait I mean us the tax payers, $6,000 a month to rent???? At a time when everyone at the city is crying about no budget, to spend money on this kind of stuff completely mind boggles me.

Posted by Zach, a resident of Dublin
on Apr 24, 2010 at 9:25 am

These mannequins are creepy. So sketchy its not even funny. Try driving through an empty downtown at 12:30 and seeing weird mannequins staring at you. Sketchy, man...

Posted by Linda Wyner, a resident of Downtown
on Jun 11, 2010 at 12:18 pm

I understand that the bronze statues downtown will be leaving at the end of the month. What a wonderful boon it's been for downtown. They've played well in the press and every day people from out of town come to explore and be entertained by the statues. More people downtown translates into more business for shops and restaurants.

Downtown Retailer

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