'Wind Song' offers a whimsical break for commuters | September 14, 2012 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |


Pleasanton Weekly

Column - September 14, 2012

'Wind Song' offers a whimsical break for commuters

by Jeb Bing

A colorful tall sculpture just installed on Sunol Boulevard north of the Pleasanton Senior Center is drawing praise, especially from early morning commuters heading to I-680 who can use a bit of sparkle as they start their day. Standing 16 feet 10 inches tall, the multi-colored sculpture by Artist Greg Hawthorne is the newest gift to Pleasanton by Nancy and Gary Harrington. Called "Wind Song," it's a whimsical, truly beautiful piece that looks almost as if it's sailing, part of an armada in the ocean where similar boats should be passing by.

The $52,000 sculpture is made of stainless steel and painted in a variety of California colors using a special paint similar to what is used on fire hydrants and offshore oil platforms, according to Mike Fulford, the city's landscape architect whose department built the concrete platform on which "Wind Song" sits in the north section of Centennial Park. A cement patio will be added shortly to give onlookers a chance to walk around the sculpture and come up with their own ideas about what the artwork conveys. Fulford says the site for the sculpture is a passive park area used for picnics and Frisbee-throwing, but no active sports. He worked with Hawthorne and the Harringtons in choosing the location because of its high visibility from Sunol Boulevard, the Senior Center, even from the Raley's shopping center across the street.

The Harringtons spotted a small model of "Wind Song" early last year on a trip to the Hawthorne Gallery in Big Sur, an area known for its painters, sculptors and jewelry crafts. Hawthorne had created "Wind Song" for a client who then backed out of the purchase agreement. Impressed by the artwork, the Harringtons brought several staff representatives from Pleasanton, including Fulford, to the Big Sur studio, who agreed that it would fit into the number of special art pieces the Harringtons, through their Harrington Art Partnership, have been placing in Pleasanton. Later, after approvals from the Civic Arts Commission, Hawthorne was given a contract to build the full-size sculpture now standing in Centennial Park.

The Harringtons' first major contribution to Pleasanton came in providing funding for the large studio called the Harrington Art Gallery in the Firehouse Arts Center. Since then, they have added a number of art pieces in and around the Firehouse, including the "Poppies" sculpture by Stanley Proctor that sits just outside the Veterans Memorial Building on Main Street. They were also the benefactors that provided the pair of glass marquees that grace the front exterior of the Firehouse, as well as "Monet's Bench," a sculpture that sits in an outdoor plaza. The couple also leads an art walk each month that offers the public a leisurely Saturday morning look at the growing number of art pieces in downtown Pleasanton.

As for Greg Hawthorne who was here for last Friday's installation of his "Wind Song" sculpture, he sees Pleasanton as a city of many accomplished artists and art aficionados, with a downtown that caters -- and is architecturally inviting -- to retail stores selling fine ceramics, jewelry, paintings and glass. He shares the same entrepreneurial spirit of these small business owners and the need for quality workmanship by talented artists who make their work available at a fair price. He'd probably move to Pleasanton except for the beauty and artist's environment he's found in Big Sur where his custom-built home that spans a creek is just a sort distance from Nepenthe, a restaurant with renowned food and entertainment familiar to many in Pleasanton. If ever down that way, he asks that you give him a call for a tour of his studio at (831) 667-3200. He might even have another "Wind Song"-type model that folks here might like to add to Pleasanton's collection, at a fair price, of course.