Downtown Decorations: Spheres Bring Colorful Art To SB Sidewalks

Megan Blaney, Staff Writer

SAN BERNARDINO — Art is becoming an everyday experience here.

ArtStops pieces of public art in the form of painted concrete spheres are scattered around the city. Each has a different, brightly colored design, eliciting comments from curious passersby.

A woman pushing her toddler’s stroller past City Hall stopped to examine a sphere with a quirky grin on its peach face.

“He’s smiling at you,” she cooed to the child. “Wave hi.”

Local developer Watson & Associates has teamed up with Cal State San Bernardino and the city’s Downtown Area Revitalization Team to bring the spheres into downtown.

“It’s the concept of having a unifying sphere that will be scattered throughout the city,” said Chuck Diamond, executive vice president of Watson & Associates.

Since their unveiling in October the ArtStops have been a success, Diamond said. The 24-inch-diameter spheres are permanently mounted on city sidewalks and are covered in an anti-graffiti coating. Student artists submitted designs and 12 were selected.

But those who weren’t selected will have another chance, Diamond said.

“I envision hundreds of these all over San Bernardino,” he said. There will be another 10 within the month, he added.

“They all have different themes and different stories behind them,” said Glenn Baude, San Bernardino director of code enforcement. “It gets people talking but even more than that, it’s an overall effort in downtown.”

The goal is to add color and art to the city’s downtown, and the spheres are the first of several projects underwritten by Watson & Associates, which received the city’s 2005 Art Benefactor of the Year award.

The spheres are reminiscent of public art displays in other cities like New York’s cows in 2000 and the panda sculptures in Washington, D.C., in 2004.

“It’s so important to have this public art in the city,” Diamond said. “It’s a great feeling.”

Artist’s involved:

Artwork from these students at Cal State San Bernardino is part of the Downtown Area Revitalization Team’s ArtStop project.

  • Dion A. Cuevas, “Musical Realm of El Jaleo”
  • Janis Chun, “Lotus Festival”
  • Jay Merryweather, “I-Fancy”
  • Sabrina Valles, “Round 5”
  • Michael Kirk, “Wrap Dance”
  • Conrad Ruiz, “Untitled (Poke’ Ball)”
  • Heidi Rampley, “Free Directions”
  • Mark Batongmalaque, “Art Cream Social”
  • Queena Hernandez, “Untitled”
  • David G. Morgan, “The Black Bird”
  • Annabel Osberg, “A view inside the artist’s eye”
  • Kristoferson SanPablo, “Untitled (songs of the unseen universe)”

Click here to view the artwork.