Transportation

New light-rail artwork to add character to Sacramento commute

The new Franklin Station light rail stop will be in operation the first week in September where one of the new pieces of public art has been constructed – a large temple-like arch on the west side entrance.
The new Franklin Station light rail stop will be in operation the first week in September where one of the new pieces of public art has been constructed – a large temple-like arch on the west side entrance. jvillegas@sacbee.com

Driving down Cosumnes River Boulevard in south Sacramento, it’s hard not to notice the intricately carved bronze-colored arch standing at the site of the new light-rail station on Franklin Boulevard.

The steel arch, which stands 20 feet tall (not including the spire rising out of the top), has captured local attention since it was erected in February at the Franklin Station. It’s one of four pieces of public art the Sacramento Regional Transit District is installing along the four-station Blue Line extension, scheduled to open Aug. 24.

“The whole idea of that piece was making an entrance, an entrance and exit,” said David Best, the Petaluma-based sculptor who created the arch, called “Esperanza,” which stands over the pathway connecting the station platform and the parking lot.

David Solomon, the RT architect overseeing the extension project’s design, said the artwork can serve as a landmark in the area, leading people to the station.

The arch’s carved design evokes a shrine or temple, similar to Best’s other works, such as the wooden temples he creates to be burned at the annual Burning Man festival. But Best, who considers public art “a gift to the community,” said the arch is not tied to any particular culture or religion, and he wanted to create a welcoming gateway to the neighborhood.

“It’s just a pretty archway,” he said.

Sacramento officials said they hope the other three artworks, scheduled to be installed in time for the Blue Line’s opening, will also lend some character to the new stations. The line will extend another 4.3 miles from its current terminus at Meadowview Road, ending at new a station at Cosumnes River College.

Solomon said RT sought artwork that could be integrated into the station designs for the $270 million extension project. “Once we hire a design team for the stations, one of the first tasks they have as they lay out the station is to identify opportunities for potential artwork,” he said.

RT follows a Sacramento budgetary guideline that 2 percent of each station’s construction cost be reserved for art. The art budget for the Blue Line extension totals $324,305. Of that, $81,430 went to pay for the arch.

“All of the artworks create a new dimension to the station,” said Shelly Willis, executive director of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, which oversaw the artworks’ selection process.

Two works created by artist Mike Ross will adorn the Cosumnes River College station – one a curving blue line in the concrete that loops through the platform, the other a shimmering rainbow railing along the elevated tracks leading into the station.

The railing, which will project a wavy pattern that will look like it’s shifting as a viewer passes it on a train, is intended to “emphasize a sense of movement,” Solomon said.

Bay Area artist Joyce Hsu’s work “Migration,” a set of three aluminum monarch butterflies that will be affixed to the Center Parkway Station’s platform shelter, also plays with the concept of movement.

“I just want something pleasant and good to be associated with the mundane daily commute,” Hsu said.

Hsu used monarch butterflies because the insects migrate through the Sacramento area.

“It’s something understandable for a lot of people in this area,” she said.

Jeanne Kuang: 916-321-1188, @jeannekuang

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