This shimmering artwork is a sight to behold along the Sacramento River

West Sacramento Mayor Christoper Cabaldon says his city has come a long way since the days when he says he could not get a second City Council vote in favor of a public art requirement.

In late November, Cabaldon and city leaders gathered on the river walk near Raley Field to officially welcome “Subtile,” a shimmering and towering sculpture along the Sacramento River. The $500,000 piece was created by Czech artist Federico Diaz. It’s the emerging artist’s first outdoor public art piece.

“It’s completely unlike anything any other piece of public art we’ve had,” Cabaldon said.

Coated with more than 34,000 stainless steel disks, the piece – 26 feet long, 20 feet high and 6 feet wide – blends into the environment from a distance by reflecting the space around it. Up close, the work pops.

Subtile’s shape was aided by a computer to appear both organic and free flowing. Its skin of steel disks dance in the wind, making it a sight to be seen and heard.

“This couldn’t have been done in any other location because it’s based on the air and land and water patterns of right here,” Cabaldon said. “It’s specific to West Sacramento without being a picture of West Sacramento.”

The art installation is the latest in the decades-long effort to turn a former industrial zone along the Sacramento River into a hip housing, retail and entertainment district. Cabaldon said the new public art builds on what’s already happening with The Barn outdoor gathering space farther south along West Sacramento’s river walk.

“Subtile” was funded with $394,850 from a state grant aimed at bringing art to areas with low-income housing – the Bridge District includes 70 units of affordable housing at the Rivermark building – and $200,000 in developer fees. Besides paying for the artwork, funds covered installation, landscaping and city overhead.

Cabaldon said the piece would not be there were it not for the affordable housing.

“The state had this crazy idea ... affordable housing in not just about a building, it’s about creating great places and neighborhoods that are affordable to people of all different incomes,” Cabaldon said.

West Sacramento officials worked with Shelly Willis, former director of Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, to create the public art selection process.

Ed Fletcher: 916-321-1269, @NewsFletch

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