Works of Public Art
3 Local Masterpieces…and the Stories Behind Them
Photos by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group.
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Public art is a delicate balance of artistic expression – harmonizing the need of the community with the voice of the artist – in hopes the end result will express an idea of who we are.
You. Us. But it needs you to notice it. Next time you’re wandering around town, take the time to observe or even spend some time with the public art. “We don’t know where it is,” you might cry. “Don’t cry,” we say. Come with us, and we’ll show you.
Every piece of public art has a story. Some of the artists and contributors behind some of our most renowned pieces of public art granted us the pleasure of sharing the stories behind their creations. Welcome to “Public Art Appreciation 101.” But the greatest secret to appreciating public art is you really don’t need the “why” for it to come alive. Similar to any piece of art, all it really needs is you. (We just blew your mind, didn’t we?)
Plaza Goldorado, Cameron Park
For roughly 15 years, Bob Bennett’s Goldorado has been a constant in an ever-changing suburban landscape. Located off Cameron Park Drive on Highway 50, on a quiet corner next to Walgreens, its surrounds are nondescript. No plaque, no dedication. Here, the sculpture does the talking. Its unique bronze “arms” are rough, pale as stone, almost petrified – yet they give off radiant flashes when the sunlight strikes the polished bronze just so.
The real estate developer at the time, Dick Smith, was a friend, says Bob’s wife Debi. “They wanted something to represent the mountains and Gold Country, and that’s what that sculpture represents – the shape of the four sides coming together of the Sierras, and then the gold nugget represents gold being discovered in the area.”
But it also has a deeper significance. Roseville-born Bob Bennett and his identical twin, Tom, built a sculpting empire, welding coat hanger sculptures at the back of a gas station in 1969. Coat hangers gave way to bronze and after establishing their own foundry, the Bennett’s were producing as well as marketing their own bronzes; they opened their first gallery in Carmel in the early ‘70s, expanding to more than 20 galleries across the U.S. However, the late ‘90s saw the closure of the Bennett foundry, and the galleries were soon to follow. Then in 2003, Bob Bennett passed away.
Goldorado was Bob Bennett’s final public monumental, but the Bennett legacy thrives at Bennett Gallery & Awards in El Dorado. Run by Bob Jr., his wife Alice, along with Debi and the Bennett clan, the Gallery showcases Tom’s work along with other local artists’ and friends’ pieces, and provides custom awards to celebrities and business all over the world.
But close to Debi’s heart is the brand new Bennett Sculpture Gallery in Carmel. Says Debbie, “...The legend continues! Our daughter is doing beautiful paintings for the walls, and Terry Bennett, Tom’s daughter, is carrying on the legacy too.” Fittingly titled Imagine, Carmel will also be home to her husband’s last monumental in existence. “There’s several other nice pieces of Bob’s that I’m having cast right now. I’m pretty excited about seeing pieces I haven’t seen in a very long time.” Through so many incarnations, the Bob Bennett legacy has found yet another home.
For more information on Bob and Tom’s bronzes, local artists, awards and more, visit bennettgallery.net; for more information about the new Bennett Gallery in Carmel, visit bennettsculpturecarmel.com.