Public art could soon grace the roundabouts in Kings Beach as early as this fall after a three-year process.
In 2015, Tahoe Public Art began the process to select two art pieces to go into the roundabouts constructed in the center of Kings Beach. Through a juried process, finalists were selected, with the community making the final selections of the two art pieces. However, due to issues over copyright with one piece and Caltrans disallowing the second piece because it was kinetic, two other finalists were chosen – “Estrella” by Roger Berry of Clarksburg and “Da ow a ga” by Brett Moten of Reno, Nev.
As soon as the final encroachment permit from Caltrans is approved, the artists will get to work, with installation likely to happen in the spring of 2019. However, Berry has said he could finish “Estrella” quickly for a possible fall installation if approval comes through and weather conditions permit.
“Da ow a ga”
“Da ow a ga” is a Washoe term meaning “edge of the lake.” The 11-foot-tall structure will weigh about 9,500 pounds and is comprised of a variety of elements — steel, stone and wood — that will represent Tahoe’s natural environment. Moten will fabricate “Da ow a ga” with large curved plates of steel that will look like the Sierra Nevada, stainless steel waves reminiscent of the lake, granite rock to showcase Lake Tahoe’s basin and wood features to mimic Tahoe’s expansive forest.
Moten spent his childhood in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and then moved to Reno, opening a studio called Infinity Forge where he specializes in architectural work, blacksmithing and fabricating ferrous and non-ferrous metals.
“ ‘Da ow a ga’ is an impressive piece of art that tells a story of history,” says Tahoe Public Art founder, board chairman and president Steve Miller. “Once we have the permit we can start building. ‘Da ow a ga’ is a six-month process to build, so they could both be installed in the spring or one in the fall and one in the spring. Weather plays a big role in it, too; once the snow starts flying we’ll have to wait until the spring.”
Berry says he’s eager to start as soon as possible on “Estrella,” and says that he ordered materials before the price of stainless steel goes up.
“I hate waiting. I wanted to get started on this yesterday,” Berry says.
He has been sculpting for 45 years. Berry started his artistic career building soapbox racers when he was a young kid; he took a sculpting class in college and was hooked. He studied at a time when many artists focused on a fusion of sculpture and architecture. He became interested in monuments such as Stonehenge. He then turned his attention to stainless steel.
“I was interested in the shadow of the sun, changing from winter to summer,” he says.
He has life-size installations in California and other states. He specializes in making large sculptures, welding and grinding pieces to make them look like a singular object.
“Estrella” will have at least eight rings and 144 pieces of steel with 100 feet of welding on each ring. To come up with the design, Berry reflected back to his childhood and spending time in the Tahoe Sierra.
“What I remembered most was the sky,” he says, noting that the lack of light pollution in Tahoe at night is a blessing. “I want [my sculpture] to be bright, reflect light. When you put headlights on it, it shines.”
He also tried to tie in the Olympic rings at the entrance to Olympic Valley into the design.
“I want it to convey an experience. As you travel around this piece, the lines will fold into one another — it’s furling and unfurling. You can’t stand in a single view and necessarily understand what the other views are; it’s constantly engaging, morphing and changing as you go around it,” he says.
At any one time Berry has around 20 sculptures in various stages of development, so when one starts to take life-size form, it elevates him to a new level.
“When it starts to become a sculpture, it’s a little bit like falling in love,” Berry says. “This is who I am and what I do. I just hope people will see it, understand it and personalize their experience. I want to see engagement and acceptance of it. I live on a ranch and am a full-time sculptor, part-time grape grower. Very much of what I do as a sculptor is influenced as what I do as a farmer. Both require patience and acceptance of things that happen that’s out of your control.
“If we start [installation] in the next couple of weeks, then I’m hopeful that we can get it done by Nov. 1, 2018. It’s a fairly straightforward process and doable, but things can happen. I’m really excited about building this piece and seeing it in place.” | tahoepublicart.com