The City of Whittier has officially encouraged Art in Public Places projects in the community since 1993. The City’s Art in Public Places ordinance authorizes the allocation of one half of one percent of construction costs over $250,000 to be used for Art in Public Places projects.
The intent of the Art in Public Places (AIPP) program is to provide a collection of nationally recognized art work through the City to be of benefit to the citizens of Whittier, those who conduct business and anyone who visits the community. The program is designed to present the community with a variety of quality artworks, styles and themes. Art in Public Places projects provide new employment opportunities for local and regional artists and craft workers, enhance the aesthetic and cultural appeal of an environment, strengthen community ownership of a public space and increase property value.
Beyond its ability to enrich a space visually, public art can provide a glimpse at a city’s maturity. It can express a community’s positive sense of identity and values. It can demonstrate unquestionable civic pride and can affirm an educational environment. A city with public art is a city that thinks innovatively, feels strongly and grows together.
Arts in Public Spaces Advisory Committee
The City Council has appointed an Arts in Public Spaces Advisory Committee to review all AIPP applications and examine art proposals for public safety, weather resistance, balance with the program, verification of value, public response, proper lighting, public accessibility, installation methods, proportion, composition, the artist previous experience, the artist's art training and their exhibition report. The Advisory Committee meets the last Wednesday of each month at 4:00 pm at the Uptown Senior Center.
- Sandra Hahn
- Peggy Rowe
- Wesley Murray
- Don Strout
- Eric Martinez
- Marilyn McCarthy
“Welcome Friends,” is Whittier’s first public artwork, created by Jill Casty and dedicated on June 14, 1996. "Welcome Friends" is located at the southeast corner of Whittier Boulevard and Painter Avenue.
“Welcome Friends” is an 18-foot multi-colored steel sculpture. The brilliantly hued artwork is large, but airy, and represents the sun rising over the Whittier Hills, and the bright stylized leaves suspended from curly green steel branches represent the many and varied trees of Whittier. Even the title of the piece, “Welcome Friends,” pays tribute to Whittier’s Quaker background.
“I wanted to create a gateway to the City,” Casty said about the sculpture. “When I look at it, I see joy and the pleasure of life – all these good things and hope for the future.”
In researching the project, artist Casty said she noted that Whittier’s City flag depicts a rainbow “W,” which inspired her to use the bright color scheme for the sculpture. However, time passes and tastes change and the 15-year-old sculpture began to lose some of its luster. In the late 2000’s, the Quad at Whittier began a renovation project that included repainting the buildings using a more contemporary color palette. The City and the Art in Public Places Committee, as well as artist Casty, were contacted to ask their opinion and support to update the colors on "Welcome Friends" to better fit in with the refurbished shopping center and restore the sculpture to its original brilliance.
For several months, Terramar, owner and operator of the Quad; the City, the Art in Public Places Committee and artist Casty worked in partnership to develop a fresh, vibrant color palette to compliment the updated shopping center, while still retaining the original theme of the artwork. On November 15, 2011, a fresh, bright "Welcome Friends" was re-dedicated at the Quad.
And once again, the sun rises over the Whittier Hills in a blaze of glory.
“The Arch,” a tile mural on the northeast corner of Whittier Boulevard and Greenleaf Avenue, is a four-columned, tile-roofed structure, with hand-painted tiles depicting various events and features of Whittier and its history. This artwork was installed in 1998, when the Albertson’s Market on the site was opened.
“The Arch” presents an interesting contrast of style, with the substantial arch structure design by Katie Steffler and the finely-detailed tiles painted by Dianna Schramm.
Although they show separate scenes, the tiles in “The Arch” give the appearance of a mural above the arches of the structure. Some of the features painted on the tiles include Whittier’s former orange groves, a horse-drawn produce delivery wagon, an old-fashioned home milk delivery truck, an El Camino Real bell, Whittier City Hall and other familiar and beloved landmarks, both old and new, providing a capsule history of the City.
The Garden Gate
Inspired by the women of Whittier, “The Garden Gate” sculpture, created by Guy A. Wilson, is located at Lou Henry Hoover Park, 10839 Beverly Boulevard, at the corner of Beverly and Norwalk Boulevards. The two sides of the gate represent two well-known Whittier women, done in bas relief, approximately seven feet in height, slightly larger than life size. The left door of the gate portrays Harriet Strong and her four children among pampas grass. The right gate door depicts Florence Maple Thomburgh from behind a stand of hollyhocks. A free-standing sculpture of a young girl stands in the opening between the two gates, gazing up at the women, and inviting viewers to enter and read the histories of the women of Whittier. Depending on the viewer’s point of view, the young girl sculpture can either represent the young Lou Henry Hoover or a modern child gaining inspiration from the many accomplishments of the women of Whittier
The gate is 9 feet high, 3 to 4 inches thick and the entire sculpture is approximately 6 feet wide. “The Garden Gate” was the first City-commissioned public artwork funded through the Art in Public Places ordinance, and was dedicated on October 9, 2004.
Women of Whittier
Guy A. Wilson, the sculptor of “The Garden Gate,” shared his thoughts about Whittier’s women: “History is not always found pressed between pages in terms of commerce and fame, but their impression on this earth is found through the seeds they nourished, the lives they touched and the fabric of community they created and maintained.Her stories are like fallen leaves that nourish and inform the ground we walk upon.
The garden is a mirror within one’s self. It reflects a space of experience, a space of opportunity and a space of infinite possibilities. Within the garden living things – in their abundance and diversity – symbolize and inspire aspects of the human condition. "The Garden Gate" signifies the garden within each individual and celebrates the collective spirit in the community of Whittier today. From established roots they continue to grow. Reaching skyward, beyond themselves they speak to us of our past and inspire our future.”
The following is inscribed on the piece:
People, Place and Meaning
Through time these hills have witnessed people of various cultures. Many have left their impression upon its soil. The Tonga Gabrielano people were perhaps the earliest. They journeyed through this site upon a footpath from the Pacific Ocean extending to the San Gabriel Mountains beyond. The Spanish and Mexican also utilized this ancient trail that became known as North Walk. One of Whittier’s earliest settlers recognized the potential of this garden setting. Harriet Williams Russell Strong (1844-1926) with her husband Charles purchased 220 acres from Pio Pico, California’s last Mexican Governor. Rancho Del Fuerte once thrived upon the harvest of citrus, fruit and walnut trees. These trees provided a vehicle by which individuals were transported and transformed into a community. North Walk eventually became Norwalk Boulevard. Through time footprints became a path and the footpath a boulevard.
“Tall Grass,” a public art piece in located in the Whittwood Town Center, was dedicated November 16, 2006. The artwork is located adjacent to Sears, and was installed as part of the renovation of the Whittwood Town Center in the mid-2000s.
“Tall Grass” by artist Gale McCall gives a sense of place. The concept for “Tall Grass” evolved from considering the local history, the architectural integrity of the renovated shopping center and the desire to engage and enhance the area for visitors, workers and the community.
“Tall Grass” takes shape in the form of tall grasses, with images floating among the blades. The grass is stainless steel pipe of varying lengths between eight and ten feet, in sections of 15 feet. The floating images, quarter-inch painted plate cutouts, may be things we are shopping for, something blown in from the past of future, or things we may be dreaming of. Reminiscent of the fields of grass that once were seen throughout the town, this piece connects the fields of the past to the spaces of today. The pieces together give calm elegance and spatial rhythm to the amphitheatre.
With reference and reverence to shapes, images and context, the artist has chosen to lead the viewer through gateways of inspiration not to be literal, but rather to be interpreted and discovered and realized as the viewer chooses.
“The Storyteller,” the second public art piece commissioned by the City of Whittier, was dedicated on December 7, 2007 at the Whittwood Branch Library.
"The Storyteller," by Carol Gold, portrays the power of verbal communication and symbolizes the river of knowledge that connects us all, both young and old. It also reminds us to share our stories and wisdom with those around us. The artwork depicts a female figure leaning against a short wall. The figure’s hands are gently motioning outward in an expressive gesture. The woman’s mouth is open in speech as she relates a tale to unseen listeners. The simple sculpting of "The Storyteller" encourages the viewer to finish the figure’s unknown narrative for themselves.
The 6-foot bronze sculpture is patinaed in warm tones; honey gold on the figure’s skin and coppery brown on the clothing. The artist’s uncomplicated modeling technique speaks to her quiet, yet contemporary style. The artist sculpts sleek, flattened figures that successfully communicate mood and feeling with straightforward gestures. Despite the fact that the statue is sculpted in bronze, it has an airy, almost delicate appearance. Gold said the statue was inspired by her love of reading. “We all love good stories and tell them in our everyday lives,” she said in an interview in the Whittier Daily News. “Storytelling is necessary. I can’t imagine life without stories.”
The Whittwood Branch Library was selected as a fitting location of “The Storyteller,” as a library is a treasure-trove of stories for everyone, and the sculpture itself shows the importance of both the spoken and the written word.
A joyous swath of bright colors leading to a variety of fun and adventure characterizes "Community Spirit" relief style sculpture designed for the Whittier Community Center. The third of the City of Whittier commissioned public art works, "Community Spirit" was dedicated January 16, 2008.
The brilliantly-colored artwork reflects the exuberant energy of the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department in its programs. The intense, brightly-colored, flowing shapes of aluminum and stainless steel relief wrap around the north and west walls of the Community Center, leading viewers into the various activities offered there. The artwork also incorporates the changing daylight and shadows that fall on the Community Center building to add to the energy of the piece, such as the ever-changing shadows of the large sycamore tree adjacent to the west side of the building.
"Community Spirit" was designed by artist Nancy Mooslin, who said, “The over-arching theme of "Community Spirit" is one of vitality, rhythm, perpetual motion and growth. The shapes used in the sculpture are based on the different geometries found in nature. Many of the measurements are based on the golden mean and the golden spiral, a proportion that is found in nature when something is constantly growing or moving, such as plant life, shells, weather patterns and galaxies. There are also references to waves of light, water or air and to human pursuits such as music, dance and athletics.”
Mooslin also received inspiration from the poetry of John Greenleaf Whittier, the City’s namesake, whose “words share a love of life and wonderment and joy in the world around him.”
"Community Spirit" covers approximately 40 feet of the north wall and 34 feet of the west wall of the Community Center with swirling colors. "Community Spirit" is light-hearted, full of color, reflected light and the uplifting action of inspiring ideas.
“The Wind Sculptures" undulating movements reflect the mood of the wind and generate joy. In groupings large or small, the sculptures dance to the rhythms of nature. The works can be viewed from any angle, creating various patterns. The kinetic shapes are bold and distinctive.
The fourth of the City-commissioner public artworks, “The Wind Sculptures" were dedicated on January 15, 2009, and were designed by artist Lyman Whitaker.
With the eve-changing nature of the wind, the sculptures move and interact with one another when placed in a grouping. Some are spirited and dynamic while others are slow and elegant, but they never move too fast. The stylized floral pieces swirl in mesmerizing circles to catch the eye and lift the spirit. Varying shapes and forms unveil themselves as one moves by or through the sculptures. A casual glance at the sculptures will reveal a new form not previously noticed or predict what the weather has in store for the day.
“The Wind Sculptures” are placed along the Whittier Greenway Trail at three locations: the Palm Park Trailhead, the railroad crossing at Five Points and the Mills/Lambert Trailhead. As the years pass, the copper and stainless steel sculptures will develop an organic patina, making them even more part of the natural environment of the Greenway Trail.
“The Wind Sculptures" have both organic and mystical themes, symbolizing a move toward better solutions in our relationship with the environment.
Installed in 2009, “The Water Sculpture” welcomes guests to the new Presbyterian Medical Office building with an alluring display of water, movement and light. Located at the new PIH entrance on Putnam Street, the multi-level water sculpture measures 20 feet wide by 7 feet tall and was part of the PIH expansion project.
The granite water sculpture emulates the Earth’s water sources through the simulation of rain, rivers and oceans. From the top-tier stone block, a mound of water rises from the center, symbolizing the life-giving source of water, and falls down the curved front side of the textured stone in small rain-like rivulets into a serene reflecting pool, representing the rain that falls on Earth.
Upon reaching the pool’s edge, water continues to fall in wider rivulets from the second-tier pool into a shallow river rock-covered pool. The wider rivulets, representing various streams and rivers formed by the rainfall, create a tranquil, resonating sound to those around. Water finally falls in overlapping sheets from the third tier into the bottom pool, representing the oceans and lakes created by the streams and rivers above, which is covered with small river rocks. The smaller size of the rocks also illustrates Earth’s natural formation of river rocks and pebbles from larger stones and boulders.
At nightfall, a series of underwater lights illuminate the three tiers of “The Water Sculpture” and highlights the sculpture’s various water textures, movements and forms. The combination of these features emphasizes the ever-changing forms and circular cycle of the Earth’s water sources.
“Rocket Robin,” the fifth of the City of Whittier-commissioner public art projects officially landed in front of the Parnell Park Zoo on January 21, 2010.
The whimsical sculpture greets visitors at the entrance to the Parnell Park Zoo.
“Rocket Robin” is a multi-layered aluminum structure, is 20 feet long and 12 feet high. The artwork celebrates the beloved harbinger of Spring, the robin, while adding a humorous, retro science fiction quality with its construction, which is reminiscent of the Airstream Travel Trailers, an icon of Spring vacations from years gone by. The entire Parnell Park site was taken into consideration for the selection of this artwork, a shiny metal piece of whimsy, which provides a welcoming entrance to the Zoo, where it joins a variety of beloved barnyard animals.
“Rocket Robin” turns heads, even as the robin itself cocks its head to look back at the viewers with its bright eyes, while searching busily for the matching aluminum worms for a quick snack. It is hoped that those who see it feel happy and enjoy this eye-catching, smile-getting sculpture and the memories it invokes of Springs gone by.
"The Dress" by sculptor Kevin Box is located at Mimo's walkway.
“The Dress,” is one of two sculptures by Box. Originally inspired by the Nike of Samothrace in the Louvre, the elegant sculpture is also reminiscent of the timeless style of fashion icon Audrey Hepburn – a sleek flow of red oxide highlighted in honey bronze – remember the movie?
“The Dress” stands approximately 5 feet tall on its buff sandstone base. “The Dress” also has a faintly origami feel, as if it were created out of crumpled and folded paper, instead of museum quality bronze.
Box has created several dress sculptures, and this piece is dramatically different from “From the Tree,” the other Uptown sculpture by his hand.
Whether the end result of an artwork bears a resemblance to paper, a delicate leaf or fabric, he is able to capture the fragile nature of their aesthetic in the very un-fragile medium of bronze.
From the Tree
"From the Tree" by sculptor Kevin Box is located in the green space west of the Bright Avenue parking structure.
A green leaf on Greenleaf Avenue, a subtle pun for all to enjoy, “From the Tree,” a six-foot by six-foot green patinated leaf highlights this greenspace area, adding color and visual interest to the swath of low-growing grass adjacent to the Multi-Deck.
“From the Tree” depicts a grand, oversized leaf in the shape of a sycamore or maple leaf. While the leaf is large and substantial, it also captures the delicate quality of a leaf blown in by the wind – but on a “super-size” scale. One of two artworks by Box selected for the Galleria Display, “From the Tree” is part of the artist’s collection dedicated to nature, using a grand oversize scale to highlight shape and detail.
The sculpted leaf, made of museum quality bronze, is patinated in green and green-gold tones, like those of leaf fallen from a tree and picked up by a gust of wind. It is mounted on a Dakota sandstone two-piece pedestal, to continue the natural, wind-blown effect.
"Red Rascal" by sculptor Sandy Scott is located in the galleria north of Vinatero's Wine Shop.
“Red Rascal,” a representational sculpture by artist Sandy Scott, the small reddish bronze sculpture pays tribute to the foxes in the Whittier Hills. While Scott’s artworks are known for their surfaces reminiscent of 19th European sculptors, she also captures the canny and shrewd nature of this ever astute animal. Scott has also portrayed the fox’s most recognizable trait: its bushy tail, as well as its wary expression as the fox looks over its shoulder as it continues its hunt in this urban setting – A midnight foray into the heart of Uptown.
The museum quality bronze fox in a coppery red shade measures 23” high x 28” wide x 20” deep. It is mounted on a natural-style piece of buff sandstone, and is placed near the greenery at this galleria – a convenient hiding place should the situation warrant.
"Crab Louis" by sculptor Wayne Salge is located on the walkway north of the Whittier Villiage Cinema on the eastside of Greenleaf Avenue.
Whimsical, humorous and appealing to children of all ages, “Crab Louis” by artist Wayne Salge is placed at child’s-eye level in the galleria by the Whittier Village Cinema.
The robotically-styled crab calls to mind the magical world of play and movies as the shy little creature peers through his claws, looking to make some new friends – which he will undoubtedly find the moment a child sees him.
The delightful, science-fiction styled “Crab Louis” is cast in museum quality bronze, patinated in a subtle blue-grey tone, which adds to the other-worldly effect. Measuring 26” high x 18” wide x 18” deep, this sculpture is mounted on a large piece of buff sandstone, giving the appearance of a happy crab surveying his tidepool, and awaiting visitors to come admire him.
Salge’s unique abstract style utilizes lines, shapes and textures to reveal body movement, gesture and stillness. The result is magical as well as whimsical.
“Flukes” by artist Gordon Gund, was installed at Whittier College in early 2015. This artwork was donated by Gund to be part of the Whittier’s Art in Public Places collection.
“Flukes” is a bronze sculpture of the flukes of a whale as its tail breaks up through the ocean. The artwork measures 72 inches high, 77 inches wide and 30 inches deep, placed on a 36-inch by 12-inch granite disk on the College lawn.
“Flukes” was inspired by an encounter Gund had with pilot whales on Nantucket Island. A group of whales had come ashore, and Gund, along with scientists attempting to redirect the pod, had a chance to touch the tail of one of the whales. This was an especially meaningful opportunity because he lost his sight in 1970 from retinitis pigmentosa.
To be able to examine up close the magnificent mammal allowed Gund to interpret and translate what he felt into bronze.
Gund, who began sculpting by doing wood carvings of various sea life – shorebirds, sea mammals, fish and seals – before moving into bronze, said of his ability to create such majestic artwork that while he cannot see the shapes, he feels them with his hands and in his mind.
“Flukes” is an outstanding example of his ability to “see” with hands and mind. He effectively captures the power and massiveness of the tail of a whale, as well as the power of the musculature, and the torque of the speed which can emerge from these multi-ton animals as they swim, dive and surface in the waters off Nantucket.
Gund’s “Flukes” is not only an exquisite piece of art, it is a triumph and an inspiration of the strength of the human spirit and the desire to create beauty.
The History Lesson
This trompe l’oeil mural was painted on this wall as part of a new shopping center in Whittier, CA. The mural is on the corner of the Orchard Supply Hardware building on the corner of the main street, Whittier Boulevard, and a side street. The wall was built specifically to hold the mural.
The mural depicts an archway, and through the archway is an idealized landscape view depicting elements of Whittier's history. The land where Whittier is located was originally part of a Spanish land grant, and the mural depicts two Spanish Californios, a dancer and guitar player, to represent that era. Pio Pico, the last governor of Alta California, built a large hacienda in what is now Whittier, and that is represented by the building and courtyard in the center of the mural.
The land that is present-day Whittier was acquired by a group of Quakers in 1887, and the mural shows a Quaker seated to one side enjoying the view. Whittier grew into a prosperous agricultural community, represented by orange trees behind the dancers, crops and orchards on the hills in the distant landscape, and the idealized townscape from the 1930s. The coming of the railroad connected Whittier to the rest of the country and allowed the community to grow and thrive into the city it is today.
Standing in the archway are a mother and daughter, with the mother showing the daughter the view of Whittier's history depicted in the landscape. The mother and daughter are viewing the historical scene much as viewers are looking at the mural, and so viewers are invited to join them in appreciating Whittier’s rich history.