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July 15, 2011 > State of the Arts

State of the Arts

By Margaret Talt, Fremont Cultural Arts Council

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." Pablo Picasso

Since the Fremont Cultural Arts Council published the free brochure "Art in Public Places" in 2008, more pieces have appeared in public areas. Most interesting is the zoetrope fountain in Niles' public plaza. An interactive piece of art, visitors can spin the wheels and look through the slits to see a moving figure, thus experiencing an early form of a movie. Not a traditional piece of art by one artist, this public art is a collaborative process between RRM Design Group, Oakland; Ann Baker Landscape Architecture, Emeryville; and Scientific Art Studio, Richmond.

Most readers will have seen the new art in front of Fire Station No. 6 at Central and Dusterberry and may not have been very impressed. But when one understands what the piece is telling, there is quite a different feeling.

Titled "Unified Will," the artwork is an 8-foot carved Indiana limestone disc sculpted by Michael Clapper. The outer edges are carved to look as if the sculpture is made from 75 segments to honor the number of years this particular department utilized the service of volunteer firefighters. As individual segments reach the center, the stone flares outward toward the front and back of the piece, forming the outside borders of a space that is like a silhouette of an abstracted Maltese cross, the badge of honor and symbol of protection worn by all firemen.

Completely different from the first two, "Eternal Flame" by Henry R. Harvey of Lahaska, PA. is a graceful abstract made of oxidized steel. The sculpture is located at 46100 Warm Springs Boulevard in the Times Square development on the site previously occupied by Navlet's Garden Center.

The Niles zoetropes and Fire Station 6 pieces are owned by the city, and "Eternal Flame" is privately owned. There are more public pieces, so stay tuned for the next column.

In the meantime, the Fremont Cultural Arts Council is exhibiting sculptures and paintings by Sami Nadi. Nadi is originally from Afghanistan, and studied art at Kabul University. He won a scholarship in 1981 to Academy of Fine Arts in Minsk in the Soviet Union, and currently has a studio at Willits Center Gallery.

The exhibit is at the Fremont Cultural Activities Center, 3375 Country Drive, through July 29. The center is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the exhibit is free.

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