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Calafia should stay put, says Arts Commission
Calafia, the 14-foot fountain statue welcomes visitors to downtown Turlock. Adorned in festive colors, the representation of the mythical Amazon queen is supposed to symbolize this areas connection to the soil and its agricultural vitality. The statue a bronze and ceramic sculpture/fountain was created by Davis artist Donna Billick and took a year to complete. Calafia had her unveiling in June 2005, and stands on the corner of Main and Market streets. - photo by Journal file photo

She is loved by some, and disliked by others. One local business owner even wants her gone. The 14-foot statue of Calafia, which has welcomed visitors to downtown Turlock for the last seven years, isn't ready to part from its home, just yet. During Thursday's Arts Commission meeting, commissioners voted to recommend to the Turlock City Council that Calafia not be relocated from downtown Turlock.
"The art piece Calafia located on Main Street in downtown Turlock should stay in its original location as it was intended," wrote TCAC members in their recommendation. "We feel that yielding to a property owner's request could subject public art to the discretion of individual property owner's tastes and desires, and would erode the original purpose and goals of the Downtown Plan."
Reaching a decision wasn't difficult for the commissioners. City staff consulted with several members of the former Turlock Arts Commission and the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association who were actively involved in selecting and constructing the Calafia statue in its current location. City staff also presented to the Arts Commission six alternate locations for the statue:
• The triangle property city-owned at the corners of Canal Drive and Bonita and Olive
• Broadway Park, corner of Orchard and First
• Canal Drive median at Main Street.
• Denair Park, at Rose and Main Street
• Turlock City Hall, S. Broadway
• Lander Avenue at Main Street

"The public was given many months to comment on the issue," said TCAC chair Lynn Sarraille. "As a gatekeeper, we need to honor what the public wants and a majority of them want the statue to remain in its original location."
A local business, whose name remains anonymous, approached the City requesting the relocation of the Calafia statue. The business owner told city staff that he is interested in renovating the building adjacent to the statue and feels that the statue's size overwhelms the building and draws attention away from potential businesses that might locate there.
"He is willing to pay the costs of relocating the statue and constructing a new art piece," added Sarraille. "He is also willing to prepare initial concepts for the new art piece at the Lander and Main gateway."

Although TCAC is recommending against relocation of the Calafia statue, it is up to the City Council to make the final decision.
"I want to stress the fact that as an Arts Commissioner, we do not have the final say," said Sarraille. "We simply offer the council recommendations and hope that they feel strongly in not having the statue moved. Calafia echoes the idea of fertility in our Valley and it generates personality in our downtown."