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Can a piece of art be functional? Absolutely.

Just in time for increased pedestrian traffic as downtown continues to reopen, Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council has installed two colorful signposts that point the way to the city’s works of public art.

“Now that the pandemic is subsiding, we are ready to install the signposts and celebrate the return of downtown vitality and the lively role the arts play in that awakening,” PCAC president Kelly Cousins said.

Board member Anne Giancola led the project, assembling more than a dozen artists to work on the two pieces.

“The signposts are an artistic and creative play on signposts, as they point to some of Pleasanton’s many public art pieces but are also works of art in themselves,” Giancola said. “The signs feature local artists’ interpretation of signage and serve as a fun and lighthearted way to remind people of the joy of creativity.”

The artists all live in the area: Rhonda Chase, Antonio Morena, Lynda Briggs, Jen Huber, Steve Barkkarie, Meghana Mitragotri, Barbara Stanton, Melenie Llamas, Heidi Giancola, Leta Eydelberg and Charles Simmons.

Morena is an Ohlone Indian artist and his part of the sign points to the Alviso Adobe Community Park, which is home to several of his creations, including a tulle hut. Stanton painted the sign direction to her own work of art — the Pleasanton Pioneer Founders Mural on First Street.

The signposts also contain lines of poetry by Kanchan Naik, a past Teen Poet Laureate in Pleasanton, who gave permission for her verses to be split.

Anne Giancola, a Pleasanton resident, coordinated a similar project in Livermore, where she serves as the visual manager of Livermore Arts at the Bankhead Theater and Bothwell Arts Center. Those signposts caught the eye of Cousins.

“Kelly said, ‘Let’s bring that to Pleasanton,'” Giancola recalled.

The Pleasanton project took off while everyone was sheltering in place, they noted.

“We were all looking for outdoor activities at the time,” Cousins said. “We were all sitting around, on our Zoom, saying, What can we do?’

“Then many of us were feeling the community was opening up but we didn’t know the timing of going into actual museums — we thought people could enjoy the outdoor activity of looking at art in a safe environment.”

“A lot of people in Pleasanton don’t know where all the public art in Pleasanton is,” she also pointed out.

“It was the perfect pandemic project,” Giancola said. “Everyone could do the work in their own house, then one day I put them all up.”

Cousins, who was a member of the Cultural Arts Master Plan Committee in 2014, worked with the city to get permission — and help — to erect the two signposts in wine barrel planters then move them to their downtown positions last Friday. One is on Main Street in front of the Museum on Main, and the other is on Neal Street between Wayside and Delucchi parks, not far from the Firehouse Arts Center.

Once the city granted permissions, the project took off and artists went to work, Giancola said. The signposts are temporary and will be removed in October.

“It was a perfect storm of artists and public art and having it up temporarily,” she said. “I really enjoyed this collaboration.”

The signposts have QR codes that can be scanned to access the city’s website for more information about the public art pieces.

Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council was founded 42 years ago, and Cousins and Giancola touted its accomplishments, which include spearheading the drive for the Firehouse Arts Center, and reinstating the strings program in Pleasanton schools.

For more information about PCAC, visit www.pleasantonarts.org; email [email protected]; or call 200-8267.

This article was originally published by Pleasanton Weekly.

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