(UPDATED 3/16/17) Description of Multitudes Converge, a sculpture created by Sacramento artist Bryan Valenzuela for the Golden 1 Center.
Bryan Valenzuela was one of the artists chosen to craft a work of public art to be displayed at the Golden 1 Center (aka Sacramento Kings arena). This was his first major public art commission.
Valenzuela has an art degree from Sacramento State. His work “Bittersweet Sanctuary” won a Best in Show award at the 2015 California State Fair Fine Art Exhibition.
Valenzuela’s sculpture, Multitudes Converge, is located in the arena’s southwest escalator atrium. The sculpture is made up of approximately 400 hollow blown-glass spheres in various shades of blue and turquoise with glints of gold. Two separate strands of the spheres, inspired by the Sacramento and American Rivers, twist through the atrium and then intersect merging into one channel.
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Intimate Conversations With Remarkable Artists
I recently attended one of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission’s (SMAC) series of “Intimate Conversations with Remarkable Artists” at the Crocker Art Museum. Shelly Willis, the Director of the SMAC and the Golden 1 Center’s public art project director, led the discussion with Bryan Valenzuela and Gale Hart.
Hart is another of the Sacramento artists who received a public art commission for the Golden 1 Center. Her sculpture, Missing the Mark, is located outside of the Golden 1 Center on L Street. See related blog post: Missing the Mark – Sacramento Public Art (part of an occasional series).
Also see related blog post: Sonic Passages – Sacramento Public Art.
The conversation that day was both interesting and enlightening. The process of commissioning public art was discussed in some detail, along with the challenges both artists faced with the accelerated timeline they were working under.
Normally an artist would have an extended period of time – even years – to work through the process, refine their proposal and create their artwork. This public art commission was not “normal” to say the least.
Conversation Highlights and Insights
Bryan Valenzuela has worked for over a decade to perfect a unique drawing technique involving the atomization of the figure by carving out shape and light with handwritten text. It was therefore quite a surprise when Valenzuela proposed a three-dimensional sculpture – something he had never done before.
Valenzuela stated that he had decided to push himself and go out on a limb. Like Hart, he found himself being called back several times for design review.
Each of the 16 finalists for a Golden 1 Center art commission had to pick and prioritize their top three sites to feature their work. Valenzuela’s first choice of location was approved – but not everything worked out as planned. More on that later.
Fabrication of Multitudes Converge
The conversation with Valenzuela about the fabrication of the glass spheres was very interesting.
Valenzuela had contacted a German glass company only to later discover that they did not do the type of work he needed. The German company helped connect him with a glass blowing factory located in a small town in the Czech Republic. The small town, located outside of Prague, has several glass blowing factories and the families there have practiced their art for centuries.
Valenzuela explained the process involved in creating the spheres, and showed a short time-lapse video of the glass blowers practicing their art. As one would expect, not all of the spheres made each day met the specifications (two steps forward and one step back).
As an interesting aside, Valenzuela stated that by law glass blowers are allowed to drink beer while they are blowing glass. It is obviously hot and thirsty work!
Construction Timeline/Installation Challenges
The Golden 1 Center was under a very tight construction timeline. Both artists were trying to read construction blueprints and view the construction site so that they could determine how their artwork would fit in. Not an easy task.
There was a bit of “drama” connected with both artists as they struggled to meet the time-frame. Valenzuela’s panic moment occurred when he was overseas and received a call informing him that the lighting plan for his artwork was needed in six days. Unfortunately, when he submitted the lighting plan he was told it was too late. It sounds like the issue of some type of lighting is still being looked at post-installation – we will have to wait and see what transpires.
Each of the glass spheres, which are ¼ inch thick, was closely inspected once they were delivered for hairline cracks – and luckily few had to be discarded.
Installation of the spheres also proved to be a challenge. There were 258 cables hanging from the ceiling in the atrium, but they were not all where they should be. Some of the cables had to be moved and/or removed.
A planned three-week installation time-frame had to be compressed into 10 days! Luckily Valenzuela had a crack crew willing to work long hours and into the night to get the job done.
To Sum Up
To sum up, at the end of the conversation Valenzuela was asked if he was happy with his creation. His answer was that he was generally happy with it – and that when it comes to public art you just have to let go.
(3/16/2017) Additional information added.
Comments on Multitudes Converge?
I personally really like Multitudes Converge, and I am glad that Valenzuela decided to move outside of his comfort zone to create this beautiful work of art. What is your opinion of Multitudes Converge?
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