Two art installations that used to grace the Turlock area could be headed to the scrap and junk yards after languishing in the city yard for years.
The Scandinavian Village wooden statue and the Energy Burst sculpture have both been housed at the City of Turlock Corporation Yard for well over a decade and during that time the two works have either been vandalized or sustained significant weather damage.
The Scandinavian Village statue was part of a series of statues created by a visiting Scandinavian artist during the Turlock Skandi-Fest celebrations in the early to mid-1990s. The artist made his statues by carving out large logs with a chainsaw. One statue was of a large Viking that was donated to Johansen High School in Modesto and another was of a Volvo car that was donated to a local car dealership.
One statue was done depicting a Scandinavian family and it was presented to the City of Turlock. In 1997 the artwork was installed at W. Main Street and Broadway during the annual Skandi-Fest celebration. City of Turlock staff were unsure when the statue was removed but did know it was sometime during the downtown revitalization project, which began in 1999.
The committee that was working on the downtown design decided they didn’t want the artwork back. It was then put into storage at the Corporation Yard.
“It’s not great news,” said Turlock Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Director Allison Van Guilder in a presentation to the Turlock City Council on the current condition of the artwork. “It’s very deteriorated … and well beyond being able to save.”
Van Guilder said there had been interest over the years from various community members about relocating the wooden statue but that none of them came to fruition. The wooden statue is now severely rotted and could be considered a safety hazard based on it’s size and “likelihood to continue deteriorating and eventual collapse,” according to the staff report.
The Energy Burst once served as a Turlock landmark perched atop a large sign next to Highway 99. The aluminum sculpture was created by San Francisco artist William Wareham and was installed in 1999 at the Turlock Auto Mall freeway identification sign near the Fulkerth Road exit on southbound Highway 99.
The artwork remained for a few years until the Turlock Auto Plaza replaced it with a LED display. There were discussions with Stanislaus State about displaying the artwork on their campus, but in the end the university declined the piece and it was sent to the Corporation Yard. City staff could not find the cost of the sculpture. Some estimates put it at $20,000, while others were as high as $80,000.
At the Corporation Yard the artwork was subjected to vandals.
“They tried to remove a piece of it, possibly for recycling,” Van Guilder said.
City staff said both projects would be too costly to refurbish and are suggesting the statue be disposed of and the sculpture be recycled, with the funds being used for public art projects.
Van Guilder did say the one positive is that this is a problem Turlock will not likely have in the future because the city now has a public art policy that states any group or individual who wishes to display public art must first complete a Public Artwork Permit that will be reviewed and approved by city officials. Once approved by the City Council, an agreement has to be reached that covers the scope of the work and any ongoing maintenance issues.
The City Council put off any action on the two artworks at their June 12 meeting, opting instead to discuss the matter further in July when they have their joint meeting with the Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission.