Rench was going to be in Palm Desert this week for another job; so he offered to come up here on his way back to Oregon. The Arts Advisory Committee arranged to meet him in San Ramon Sports Park at 9 am Friday, November 16th. Not only could we get a jump on preparing the art for this park, but it would save the city the cost of flying him down and putting him up in a hotel for the visit.
As a member of the Arts Advisory Committee, even though I'm an Alternate, I wanted to meet Mr. Rench and see what is involved in planning an artwork for a city park. I have seen the results of art in the parks but not been in at the formative stages. Also he has exhibited at the Roz Gallery (no relation), so I felt it was fated for me to be there.
There was a little drizzle driving up to the Sports Park this morning, but by 9 am when Rench arrived it let up. It was a nice day to tour the Sports Park, which I have not seen before, and get Mr. Rench's ideas on what he could do in different locations.
The first spot we looked at seemed ideal for a sculpture. It is a small raised garden near the refreshment stand and located in the walkway between the two baseball fields and across from the soccer field. It is also lit up until 10 pm. Mr. Rench took a photo of it but questioned the possibility of vandalism at night.
His attention and that of the committee quickly turned to the picnic area behind the refreshment stand. This is popular with families for volley ball and other informal games, while the organized sports fields are used by competitive leagues. There were several areas of the picnic field that Mr. Rench considered. He also thought this might be a good location for interactive art.
"I like it to be tangible. People can touch it, sit on it. It changes the conception of art. They can be excited about it instead of 'What the heck is that?'" Rench said, sounding excited himself.
Elizabeth Brathwaite, one of the new Committee members asked Rench to design something for kids that adults could appreciate too. She thought that might be difficult, but Rench, who has a 7 year old daughter, said as a father, it isn't hard.
He describe how he could install a horizontal piece 12' x 16' x 5' deep, by floating it 2 to 3 inches above the ground so lawnmowers could work around it without damaging it. Now that's something I never would have thought of. There's a lot more to art than meets the eye.
Rench said he has a few ideas and will make some models when he gets home. He said he lets them sit for a month to see if they "make it." He's not opposed to two or three different options.
This was a very interesting process. It is both practical and creative. An art piece of the size Mr. Rench is planning isn't something that can be dashed off in a one-hour visit to a park.
Kathi Heimann, the Staff liaison for the Arts Advisory Committee, described the process that Dale Rogers' People sculpture went through before becoming the popular piece in Central Park it is now. It's hard to believe but Rogers originally proposed a 30' spire with "WHATEVER" on it. This was rejected by the Arts Advisory Committee and it went back and forth until Rogers reached the happy family design we have today.
I believe Rench will come up with something closer to what the Committee wants sooner, even though we don't yet know what we want. So it is an exciting process and one I'm looking forward to being involved in.