Public art project to get underway this spring

The town of Windsor’s Public Art Advisory Commission has some fun artwork planned for around the town for the coming year.

The first has been approved by both the commission and the town council at meetings at the end of 2020. The Utility Box Painting Public Art Program is slated to get underway later this spring and hopes to bring a dash of color to an otherwise drab backdrop.

The program was formally approved on August 5, 2020, by the Town Council, with additional requests for the initial focus of the program to be on high-visibility locations, including Caltrans boxes and to focus on environmentally-friendly alternatives, including potentially eliminating the vinyl wrap option which has been used for applying artwork to boxes in other towns.  

At the Sept. 14 commission meeting, commissioners finalized program details; however, the discussion of the program theme and branding was continued to the following meeting.

At their Oct. 5 meeting, the commission worked on finalizing both the brand of the overall project, and the theme for 2021. The commission agreed the brand should reflect what the program gives the community, should be inclusive and should include the concepts of community, enjoyment, dialog, discussion and discovery.

The working theme for 2021 was set as “Experience Community Healing through Art” and included the concepts of healing and resiliency.  

The artist selection will be a competitive process with artists or art teams submitting their qualifications. Art designs will be juried by a selection committee, which will be recommended to city staff by the commission based on the following suggestions:

  • Entire Commission (seven members) jury all applications
  • Commission Subcommittee (no more than three Commissioners)
  • Combination of Commissioners and public representatives selected at large
  • Other combinations

Similar programs in other municipalities provide a range of stipends to the artists chosen from $150 to $1,500 based on box size and if materials are provided. For Windsor, the staff recommended that the artist provides all of their own materials and therefore the stipend should cover all costs. For reference, a five-gallon bucket (covers 1200–1700 square feet) of the anti-graffiti clear coat is approximately $160. Staff recommends a stipend of at least $800 per box.

The cost per year is estimated to be approximately $7,000 a year, including artist stipends of $750 to $1,000 per box and program start-up costs of $2,000, and the public art fund currently has a balance of $143,790.

This will be a rotating annual program with five to seven boxes painted each year. The exact number of boxes and locations will be based on the applications received, but the plan is to have one to two boxes selected in each quadrant of the town.

The program will be open to artists/art teams who live, work or go to school in Windsor. This will include students at any of the Windsor Unified School District schools. The town will also seek business sponsors in a future program cycle.

According to a presentation to the town council, in Windsor, utility boxes exist at every intersection which has a traffic signal. There are 24 traffic signals, however six of those are maintained by Caltrans. The remaining are maintained by the town of Windsor contractor DC Electric. Flashing signals or Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB) do not have large utility box cabinets and these intersections would not be good candidates for this program.

Windsor Wisdom mural

A second art project being planned for Windsor is the creation of the Windsor Wisdom Tree mural at the Huerta Gym.

The art commission received an update and initial design at their Dec. 7 meeting.

The project is being spearheaded by Community Healing (CH), a group of community citizens “formed to engage all in conversation around thoughtful ways of bringing inclusion, acceptance and a true sense of community to Windsor,” including working with the local Pomo People. On Aug. 3, 2020 CH made a presentation to the Public Art Advisory Commission introducing two mural projects proposed on town property, the Windsor Wisdom Tree and the Russian River Watershed, which were both subsequently approved by the town council on Sept. 16.

Two Pomo artists, Jewelina Costa and Bonnie Lockhart will be bringing the mural design to completion. According to the presentation to the commission, “The Windsor Wisdom Tree will be a co-created mural by people of Windsor. The overall goal of the mural is to look at community healing; past, present, and future. Rose Hammock, leader within CH, is the initial designer of the Wisdom Tree idea. The oak tree in California is a symbol of survival, strength and giving. It has for millennia been looked to by the Pomo people as a food staple. This mural will include a Valley oak tree. This is significant because the proposed location is within feet of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space Oak Preserve Conservation Easement. Important Pomo life sustaining elements include the watershed, steelhead, salmon and the flicker bird. These will also be honored in the mural.”

The mural will be painted on exterior grade plywood and protected with anti-graffiti polyurethane. The plywood mural will be attached to the exterior of the Huerta Gym wall, and can be easily be removed to a future location if required. It will be at least 12 feet high and 20 feet long.

The cost of the project will be approximately $16,600, including $5,000 for materials and supplies, $9,000 for artist fees, $1,600 for installation costs and a $1,000 contingency built in. Like the utility box project, the funds will come primarily from the Public Art Fund.

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