Public Art

Art: Sorenson's art stands tall

Brian WilkinsonApril 24, 2013 

What's yellow, red and blue, stands 20 feet-tall, spins in the wind and can be seen by everyone traveling through Oakhurst on Highway 41?

It's Oakhurst's first piece of public art at Gallery Row, 40982 Highway 41. The "kinetic" sculpture, by Fresno artist Chris Sorenson, 87, was installed last Saturday. The piece was created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Sierra Art Trails Open Studio Tour.

Jon Bock, owner of Stellar Gallery and Williams Gallery West at Gallery Row, is president of Sierra Art Trails and spearheaded the fundraising effort to pay for the $7,000 project.

"This was an exciting and emotional day,' Bock said. "It has been a year since our project was conceived and it is now clear to me how it 'takes a village' to complete any important task."

Bock said the group focused on a design created by Sorenson many years earlier -- A kinetic sculpture with a bold form, balanced kinetic elements, strong lines and bright colors.

"A tall blue base column raises the piece to a level that will be clearly visible. The center section, a red hook-shaped arm, turns into the wind like a weathervane, and a small yellow crescent at the top is also free to turn in the wind," Bock explained.

Bock called Sorensen one of the Central Valley's most revered artists and is know as 'The Man of Steel.'

"His generosity and dedication to the arts is well known" Bock said.

According to Bock, Sierra Art Trails established a Public Art Fund In 2008 and now, five years later, have installed its first public art project.

"We are honored that Chris has taken on this project and proud to have the opportunity to install one of his works in a public location for all to see," Bock said.

Kerby Smith, Sorenson's assistant, with the help of Sam Hutchison of Oakhurst Crane, had the honor of topping-off the piece with the yellow crescent to cheers and applause by a group of artists and supporters who witnessed the moment.

Assisting Smith with the installation was Bock, Todd Runberg and Blain Williams. Gallery Row's new owner, Rick Gambril, paid for the 2 1/2-foot cement pedestal the art piece sits on.

Norma Rogers, owner of Mountain Comforts and multi-media artist, said the piece will become a new landmark for Oakhurst

"It's beautiful and really shows that this community has a strong appreciation of the arts," Rogers said. "People traveling on Highway 41 will see that the community has a broad base of artists and art supporters."

Oakhurst artist Kathy Marks is a member of the Sierra Art Trails planning committee and is excited about the sculpture.

"It will draw attention to the wonderful art galleries at Gallery Row," Marks said. "The piece is bright and whimsical and it is definitely eye catching."

Stephen Stavast, owner of Stavast Studio Gallery in Gallery Row, said it is nice to have a beautiful piece of artwork to look at when your driving past Gallery Row.

"Its great to see something that represents the art world, created by our beloved friend Chris Sorenson, outside Gallery Row," Stavast said.

"Bringing artwork into the public realm pulls together people from all walks of life," Bock said. "Public art beautifies, educates and enhances our surroundings. It is a statement, indicating that a community cares about its culture."

A 28 x 12-inch bronze plaque, created by Edward Gillum, art professor at California State University, will be attached to the pedestal listing the names of major donors that made the project possible. A dedication of the art piece will be held in May.

A Sorensen Sculpture Project video features the artist working on early stages of the piece with an informative narration. The video was created by videotographer Michael Costa and Bock and can be seen at Click on "Sorensen Sculpture Project" to view the video.

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