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Mayors award to fund public art project
public art pic2
An abstract mural used to adorn the wall of the Columbia Pool. The mural was removed with the building of the Columbia Water Park in 2009. - photo by Photo Contributed

For the past few years, Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth has donated his mayoral salary to fund a public policy award in an effort to get Stanislaus State students actively involved in local issues. The first two projects tackled public transportation and bridging the communication gap between the university community and downtown Turlock. The most recent Mayor’s Public Policy Award will bring Stanislaus State and the community together to create a new public art project.

In September, Stanislaus State Art Professor Jacob Weigel accepted the Mayor’s Public Policy Award on behalf of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Since then, the university art department has been working on creating a process to receive design ideas from students and coordinating with the City of Turlock on potential public art spaces.

"We're still brainstorming ways for the community to select the murals and be involved, but I think we're headed in the right direction. The Mayor's Public Policy Award is about creating solutions to public policy issues and increasing public art throughout the city should be at the top of our list of priorities to build a stronger, more unified community," said Soiseth.

Weigel said there will be informational sessions in the upcoming months for students interested in submitting public art designs. This spring, a committee will select top designs for public review.

“We want it to reflect the community and reflect Stanislaus State while promoting engagement with the community about public art,” said Weigel.

Business or property owners interested in donating wall space or resources to this project can contact the Office of the Mayor at 668-5540 or email

“We’re looking for as much community input as possible and there will be many different opportunities for residents and students to come together to help this project to succeed,” said Soiseth.

Public art has been a priority for the City of Turlock over the past few years.

In 2016, the City Council adopted a new public art program. The new public art policy and guidelines lays out the process a group or individual would go through to sponsor a work of art that is placed within the public sphere of Turlock. Under the policy, all projects would be directly managed and controlled by the City of Turlock.

Although the City of Turlock will have the final say on what projects get approved, the policy is designed to offer a wide range of artistic styles, themes and media.

While the process is now in place for new public art projects, Turlock already has a diverse public art representation.

Most visitors to downtown Turlock know of Califia, the 14-foot fountain statue that sits on the corner of Market and Main Street, but the City has a lot more to offer art lovers.  At City Hall, there is a stained-glass window that depicts a Valley scene. The former Turlock Police Services building hosts two different public art pieces: Five Core Values and Kids Walk bronze medallions set in the walkway along the facility and Figure in Motion, a steel structure.  The Armillary Sphere positioned on the corner of Monte Vista Avenue and Countryside Drive is also public art. And the City of Turlock celebrated its centennial in 2008 with the placement of a life-sized bronze statue of town founder, John Mitchell, in Central Park.