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Cotati public art program blossoms

Thursday, April 28th, 2011 | Posted by | no responses

By JEREMY HAY

PRESS DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER

Open eyes stare toward Cotati’s La Plaza Park, drawing passersby to stop and wonder what they see.

They are Athena’s eyes, and the curious can stare through them, merging for a moment with the 7-foot-high sculpture newly installed in a grassy triangle across from the Rancho Adobe Fire station.

Made of concrete colored to resemble old bronze over reinforced foam, Athena is the first of five sculptures to be placed downtown as part of the Cotati Arts Project.

“It’s a cool project,” said Jake Page, owner of Hines Signs, a few blocks away. “I really like the idea of the influx of art into the downtown, dressing it up a little bit. It has being ignored for a long time it seems.”

The Greek goddess’s likeness, created by Santa Rosa artist Peter Crompton, is part of an ongoing art project with ambitious goals,  paid for by volunteers, residents and local businesses.

It is meant to spice up the little city’s center, attract visitors, give downtown merchants a lift and, eventually, fatten the city’s general fund.

“The thinking is that if volunteers can do something to help the city you’re in, if you can just pick up the weight that the city can’t, you can actually boost the people coming to your city,” said Cotati Chamber of Commerce President Andre Morrow, who heads the project.

“You can boost the positive image of your city and have businesses want to put themselves in your empty shells, and that’s how it boosts your tax revenue.”

Four more artworks  produced by Sonoma State University art students have been commissioned and are to be erected in July and August.

All but one are likely to be temporary, in place for a year before being replaced. But one, dubbed “Place 5,” will insert bronze panels into the sidewalk by La Plaza Park.

Each panel, designed by Diana Meehan, will be inscribed with Cotati maps.

“It is Cotati, it’s not just about Cotati,” Morrow said.

“Place 5″ by Diana Meehan, right, will be a series of hand-crafted flat bronzes set in the sidewalk between the Jim Boggio statue and the play equipment in La Plaza Park.

“Untitled” by Wyatt Amend, left, will be a monumental piece slated for the large open space at the Veterans Memorial at the south entrance to town made of three 15-foot steel tubes and a steel “cocoon” suspended between with translucent fiberglass webbing.

“Inside Out” by Missy Engelhardt, right, will be a low grouping of abstract forms cast in plastic-cement that can be used as conversational seating on the grass at La Plaza and Old Redwood behind the Lions Club/Scout Hut.

“Tilted” by Halle Siepman, left, will be three 10-foot steel towers, brightly colored  and arranged slightly off vertical next to the La Plaza Park play equipment. They will be pierced with circular “windows” for looking inside and playing peek-a-boo.

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Nick Walden is our Cotati and Penngrove correspondent.
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