City hoping to capture “The Essence of Emeryville” through Public Art Master Plan

2 mins read

In the 80’s, Emeryville was known for having one of the highest percentages of artists per capita in the nation. Our Mudflat driftwood art left a lingering memory to those that grew up here, was featured in movies, the subject of books and is considered one of the original outdoor “art gardens”.

While clearly our city has taken a different turn over the past few decades, art is still in our blood. Some of it is reflected today in our Annual Celebration of the Arts and our Art in Public Places program. The City of Emeryville is initiating its first Public Art Master Plan (PAMP) workshop led by Economic Development Project Coordinator Amber Evans this Saturday, March 5th. The goal is to help determine what the future Public Art in Emeryville should include and give residents and stakeholders an opportunity to help guide this.

Electric Rainbow under the Shellmound Overpass by Miami’s R & R Studios is the latest Public Art installation slated to begin this spring.

The City has retained the services of Columbus, Ohio based Designing Local who will work with the City and community to develop guidance for the Art in Public Places program. Their goals are to expand and help set priorities for public art improvements in our city. Program Coordinator Amanda Golden will help lead creative exercises and discussions with the community that will help extract what “The Essence of Emeryville” is. Designing Local has previously helped guide cities like Athens, Ohio and San Luis Obispo.

Determining Opportunities and identifying “The Essence of Emeryville”

It’s easy to take for granted the ample amount of Public art there is in Emeryville. We pass it daily and often it fades into the background especially for those that don’t traverse our city on bike or foot. In fact, there are over forty publicly owned art works in the city and over seventy art installations available to the public in private developments. Walking and Riding maps of the Emeryville’s Public Art can be downloaded here.

Emeryville’s public art is mapped in this Interactive Public Art Map:

It got me personally thinking about which installations are the most memorable, the most unique, the most “E’ville” and where are there opportunities for more. If Instagram is any kind of barometer for popularity, the “Sign of the Times” utility box pieces by Seyed Alavi, Mark Bullwinkle’s flat steel caricatures and the Red Baron pieces by Tyler Hoare are amongst the most iconic pieces in our city.

Not my favorite strip mall, but some of my favorite #PublicArt in # Emeryville by #artist #MarkBulwinkle #Dog #Sculpture #Oakland #EastBay

A photo posted by The E’ville Eye Community News (@evilleeye) on

Public Art Master Plan Workshop

Public Art Master Plan

Help kick off the process by photographing the “Essence of Emeryville” through Instagram using the hashtag #ArtInEmeryville. Be sure to share in the description what about your image represents the essence of Emeryville. Don’t have Instagram? Simply upload your ideas through their website.

Public Art Master Plan Workshop
When: Saturday, March 5, 2016
(drop in anytime between 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM)
Where: Ralph Hawley Middle School
1275 61st Street (Parking at Doyle Street)

Those not able to attend can provide feedback through the PAMP survey.

The results of workshop will be aggregated and presented to the Public Art Committee led by Chairperson Sharon Wilchar. The results will then be brought back to the public at second workshop held on May 14th. The final plan will then be crafted into a draft plan for the City Council’s adoption.

Feature Image: Emeryville is probably best known for its Driftwood Mudflat Art but does little to acknowledge this rich part of our history (Photo: Seymour Rosen)

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.


  1. Rob: is there a map with addresses of the art? I’d love to go a bicycle tour but can’t find addresses in this piece

    Maybe if we had an art brochure we could all visit these pieces

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