February 29, 2012

Public Art: 22,000 Hot Wheels Cars

About a decade ago, the City of Stockton passed an ordinance that requires any building project receiving city money to set aside 2 percent of its budget for the design and installation of a work of public art.
Cities all over the country have similar requirements, and while not everyone agrees, I think it’s a fantastic idea that plants beauty and charm and whimsy where you least expect them.
My favorite example is the mural above the entryway to the Stockton Arena parking garage on Fremont Street.
If you’re driving by in a hurry, or, you know, trying to park, you might not notice.
But the piece is made up of 22,000 Hot Wheels cars.

They were attached with epoxy and sealed with urethane in 4- by 8-foot sections.
The piece was created by Napa artist Gordon Huether, whose studio specializes in large, site-specific installations. (When you have some time, you should check out his public art portfolio. I especially love the Aluminum Yucca in Albuquerque, N.M., and the Gotta Go murals at the Jacksonville International Airport.)
I smile every time I see the parking garage mural. (And I have often wondered whether a scaled-down version could be built for a kid’s room. Or my living room. Sometimes I go so far as to start scouring thrift stores for toy cars.)
The piece is clever and captivating, funny and all-around delightful.
And, let’s face it. Delightful probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think about Stockton. We need as much delightful as we can get.
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