Pleasanton resident Lynda Briggs has always had a passion for hiking and open spaces. So it's no surprise that the local artist's new mural at the Pleasanton Cultural Arts building is of a giant Californian quail on a trail.
"I really found that when you're out there in nature, you connect in a way that is just so personal," Briggs said. "I felt like creating this piece was also that."
Briggs' piece, titled "Gentle Beauty", is one of two temporary public art murals that were unveiled to a crowd of nearly 30 people last Friday behind the Pleasanton Cultural Arts building located at the Amador Valley Community Park on Black Avenue.
The other piece, "Joy", was designed by Switzerland-based artist Judith Kunzle -- who gave Vera Lowdermilk, a longtime artist based in Livermore, permission to paint the mural.
Lowdermilk, who previously worked with Livermore artist Kean Butterfield to paint the Firehouse Mural on the side wall of Sanctuary Ultra Lounge in Livermore, said it meant a lot to be able to paint Kunzle's design and have it displayed in Pleasanton for everyone to see.
"I love the opportunity to paint," Lowdermilk said. "I keep looking at (empty walls) and thinking of what I could paint there ... It's just what I love doing."
Both murals were the product of two years of hard work and collaboration between the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council (PCAC), the city's Civic Arts and Parks and Recreation commissions, and city staff.
"We know it takes a village to have public art and events like this, so that we can show off our great artwork in the community," PCAC President Kelly Cousins told the crowd last week.
She also explained how back in June of last year, the Civic Arts Commission voted to approve the PCAC's proposal to install both of these murals as part of the art council's "Rebuilding Community Through Art" project.
"The vision was to inspire a dialogue about public art and renew hope, with the possibility of a better tomorrow," Cousins said.
The project had previously received a 2021-22 civic arts community grant from the city, which awards funding to nonprofits that work with the arts, culture and youth programs in Pleasanton. That funding helped cover costs in the public input process, design work, artistic materials and artist payments.
Cousins also explained how the PCAC gathered public input both online and in person at locations throughout the city, which was used to select both of the murals. She said Pleasanton residents seemed to have chosen both of the pieces because they wanted to see themes of connectivity and protection for the environment displayed at the cultural arts building.
"Our data confirm that the community's aching, COVID heart missed celebrations and collectiveness," she said. "Both new murals artistically represent human connectivity, positive energy and appreciation for nature."
"Through these murals, we see our diversity and confirm our similarities by acknowledging our strong bond with our natural surroundings," she added.
Briggs, who in the past had some of her work featured in the Firehouse Arts Center lobby and the Livermore Public Library, said that those natural surroundings -- especially in the Tri-Valley -- were her main inspiration for her piece.
She explained how she felt her work was becoming stagnant, and that when her husband went on a work sabbatical and they began going on longer hikes, she rediscovered her passion for art by just being in nature.
"You go out there and you just feel so connected to everything around you," Briggs said. "If there's anything that I want my artwork to translate is this sense of just calm and peace."
Pleasanton Mayor Karla Brown also spoke during the unveiling of both murals and emphasized the importance of art being celebrated and displayed throughout the city.
"One thing is clear: art cannot be measured in dollars and cents," Brown said. "It stirs the heart, it stirs emotions and it also touches our values."
"I believe I represent the majority of the council when I say we are a strong supporter of the arts, and we hope to continue to support local artists in our growing community," she added.
Cousins doubled down on that thought during her speech and is hopeful that the community will appreciate the hard work that the artists have put into creating these pieces of art.
"Public art can heighten our imagination with joy, bring a strong gentle appreciation of the beauty of our environment and give voice to the women who have shaped our story through their extraordinary artistic skills," she said.
The temporary murals don't have a specific date to be taken down and will be rotated out as new art pieces are considered for display at the location, according to Nick Binzoni, community and public relations coordinator for the city.
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