Published October 19th, 2016
Public Art Installation Begins in Moraga
By Sophie Braccini
Radar man by David Mudgett at the Moraga library Photo Sophie Braccini
Since May, the Moraga Arts in Public Spaces Committee has been meeting monthly to craft a policy and select sculptures that will adorn Moraga public space. The sculptures the members selected will be on loan at no cost to the town for one or two years.
The installation of the first seven pieces last week on the Moraga Library grounds at 1500 St. Mary's Rd. and in front of the town council chambers and community meeting room at 335 Rheem Boulevard.
The town council put its final seal of approval on the project at its Sept. 21 meeting. Under the leadership of council member Teresa Onoda, the council approved the creation of a seven-member committee at the beginning of the year, entrusted with a $5,000 yearly budget. The group visited with and discussed with Orinda officials the nature of the project. That city implemented a public art policy years ago that has led to tens of sculptures being installed and rotated all over the city.
The Moraga committee selected seven pieces by three local artists that the council approved: "Ardennais Appaloosa" and "Ardennais Stallion" by Amy Evans McClure; "Drain II," "Grasp," "Radar Man" and "Shell" by David Mudgett; and "Asymmetric Loveseat" by Colin Selig.
Council members asked that one element be changed in the contract that binds the town with the artist: that the town would be able to terminate the engagement at will, and remove the sculpture from public space before its term. Mayor Mike Metcalf led that discussion, saying that in Moraga even the greatest ideas can create uproar. His fellow council members followed him and agreed that this removal clause be added.
The two horse sculptures by Evans McClure will arrive later than the rest of the art, as they are still in Orinda on display at the parking level of the city offices. These two horse sculptures will be set in the landscaping of the library along with the "Radar Man" and Selig's bench. The two other statues by Mudgett, will be set in the community room front garden.
Onoda, who is a plein air painter, said after the meeting that art in public spaces is a way to remind residents that art is a vibrant part of life in Moraga.
"Just as bike lanes, trails, sports fields, golf courses and the skateboarding facility make us aware of sports as a key aspect of our community, the sculptures signal that singing, dancing, playing musical instruments, writing, painting and other creative activities are also a big part of what we do here," she said.
The council member says she sees this program as a "way to encourage the amazing talent and experience in our community that makes all of our lives much richer."

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