Collaboration creating beauty

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Nikki Cobb, Staff Writer

SAN BERNARDINO — A model of a water sculpture that will be built at University and Northpark avenues was unveiled Wednesday by artist Elizabeth Newton as part of a collaboration among Cal State San Bernardino, developers Watson and Associates and the city.


Photo Gallery: CSUSB Ceremony

Photo Gallery: CSUSB Art


The sculpture is just one among several art installations to be displayed around the campus and the city, according to Mayor Pat Morris.
“Good public art … turns us on,” Morris said.

“It stimulates the human spirit,” he said. “This art will not only stimulate our students to contemplate public art, but it will stimulate their minds and enrich their spirits.”

The art is being funded by a $300,000 grant from Watson and Associates. The Seal Beach-based company has been working with Morris at revitalizing the city’s image.

San Bernardino’s mayor has been fighting to overcome blight in the city since taking office earlier this year. Among his tactics has been the installation of several concrete spheres throughout downtown, decorated by university students and also paid for by Watson and Associates.

And Wednesday’s project won’t be the last. James Watson, president and chief executive officer of Watson and Associates, envisions more public art in the city. And he’s willing to pay for it.

“We feel that this city has been such a wonderful place to do business, that it has great opportunity,” Watson said. “Art enriches the family and individuals.”

At Wednesday’s ceremony, Watson surprised the group with an additional $10,000 check for the Coyote Conservatory, a downtown school started by the Cal State San Bernardino theater department that teaches dance, movement and puppeteering to youths.

“Hopefully this will inspire them, and help them to diversify” to other art forms, Morris said. “People without resources can enjoy, learn, get a taste of art.”

Newton, the 24-year-old graduate student whose water sculpture was unveiled Wednesday, said she considered the placement of the piece when designing it.

“I wanted it to be enjoyable and peaceful,” Newton said. “A place where students and teachers and the community could come together and regroup during lunchtime or after work.”

Morris said he didn’t know yet where additional art objects would be installed. It depends on the nature of the art, he said.

Watson’s contributions go beyond art. He’s created native oak and walnut forests – and paid for university students to maintain them.

He’s contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to literacy programs at the university. He’s also set aside green space in his nascent housing and retail developments in the city.

“In all communities, jobs, housing, infrastructure and culture are critical elements for a healthy, balanced community,” Watson said. “Art creates a distinct presence.”

University President Albert Karnig said Watson, with his wife Judy, has nurtured a warm relationship with Cal State San Bernardino.

“They’ve been extraordinary with regard to their developments across the street, asking the university for advice, making sure what they’re doing is in concord with long-term plans for the university,” Karnig said.

“Jim and Judy and their colleagues have become close friends with many people on campus,” Karnig said. “They’re good allies, good friends, good collaborators, and certainly good contributors.”

Click here to view the artwork.