Hi. I’m Walking Bob. In the summer of 2009, I was walking up the Mace Overpass when I noticed what looked like the beginnings of a really big swimming pool near Ikeda’s. Over the next few months I watched the East Area Tank (EAT) emerge as a water tank that holds four million gallons of water and allows those of us in East Davis, and areas east of East Davis, to maintain good water pressure.
When I wrote about EAT back in June 2010, it was a simple grey cylinder 135 feet in diameter and about thirty-two feet high. At that time I showed some photos of the tank in process and mentioned that the $6.2 million project included a grant to commission someone to create a mural for the tank to give it a distinctive Davis feel that could be seen as people come across the causeway from Sacramento and points east. I didn’t ask readers whether or not the work in progress looked like it would hold water.
However, within a month after the selected artists, known locally for their mural at the Davis Trader Joe’s, began painting , a Sacramento TV station decided to ask people what they thought of the artwork. They did a segment where they asked passersby what they thought of the art on the mural that was just beginning to take shape. Not surprisingly, people were unimpressed with the first patches of color on the tank and the message was “Leave it to the city of Davis . . . “. A popular local columnist who shall remain nameless (his first name is the exact reverse of mine) was also unimpressed with the artwork and the use of public funds for this public art project.
Through the controversy and scorn, Sofia Lacin and Hennessy Christophel just kept showing up at work, climbing up and down the scaffold from 8 to 2:30 each weekday. They slowly added greens, yellows, oranges and reds to the beige background, using about 130 gallons of paint over five months of painting. They based their work on an abstract painting called “Warmth” that Lacin had created. Eventually letters began to emerge from the color and I did my best to figure out what it was going to say as I walked by a couple of times a week.
Now that they are finished, I can read the words “The Sun Shines Upon Us All” at the base of the tower. Near the top of the tower in larger letters you will eventually see the Latin version of that message, “Sol Omnibus Lucet.” No, you won’t see the full message if you go by there today because three of the letters don’t show up yet. However, on the summer solstice each year, sculptures created by local metal artist, Terrence Martin, will create shadows at just the right place to complete the Latin phrase.
On Saturday, November 19 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the Pence Gallery you can hear Sofia and Hennessy talk about their creation, and the challenges of having your unfinished work judged as you create public art on a 14,000 square foot canvas. Sofia and Hennessy call their work “Same Sun,” The Sacramento Chapter of the American Public Works Association call it “Project of the Year,” and now you can judge the final product for yourself.