By Michele E Buttelman
Throughout the Santa Clarita landscape, residents will encounter poetry etched in concrete, brightly painted murals, and stunning artistic sculptures.
The Santa Clarita Arts Commission’s visible artworks can be found in nearly 100 locations throughout the city.
From “California Scape” at Fair Oaks Park in Canyon Country to “Crossroads” at the Iron Horse Trailhead in Valencia, the art spans a variety of sizes, styles and genres.
In 2009, the Santa Clarita City Council established the Santa Clarita Arts Commission.
Current members of the Santa Clarita Arts Commission: Chair Susan Shapiro, Vice Chair April Scott-Goss, Patti Rassmusen, and Andrea Vibe
dr Michael Millar.
Millar was the founding Chair of the Arts Commission in 2009. He has been a member of the Commission since its inception.
Commissioner Patti Rassmusen, who has been on the commission since 2013, said she is passionate about arts education.
“I’ve seen what art can do for the kids who don’t want to play sports, who have that side to them that we need to nurture,” she said. “To see what art in public space can do for a community is enlightening and amazing. We are very fortunate to have a city council dedicated to the arts. I am proud of our city.”
master plan art
In the fall of 2016, the Santa Clarita City Council approved the Arts Master Plan, which has become the Arts Commission’s guiding document to provide arts, entertainment, and cultural development citywide.
As part of the plan, the following vision statement was issued:
“The City of Santa Clarita is recognized as a ‘City of the Arts,’ where the lives of residents, artists and visitors are enriched through artistic and cultural experiences.”
The plan called for public art planning and selection to use peer review and community input to ensure public art works meet the goals of providing pleasant and attractive public spaces that reflect the character of the community.
Susan Shapiro, chair of the arts commission, said the implementation of an arts master plan is a milestone for the commission.
“The master plan made it possible to show the city’s commitment to public art,” she said. “Additionally, the Arts Master Plan is an important vehicle to show support for artists in the community.”
Shapiro said making arts and culture experiences accessible to everyone in the community is crucial.
One of Shapiro’s hopes for the future is to see the development of artists’ living and working spaces.
“We need to do more to support artists who want to live in our community and work in our community,” she said. “One of the most important things the arts commission can do is show the arts community in Santa Clarita that they are valued.”
Public art in Santa Clarita includes more than 25 sculptures, three of which are temporary installations.
Recent installations are at the new Canyon Country Community Center, 18410 Sierra Highway, Canyon Country, CA 91351.
Pieces include “Communitree” and “Circle Song,” a mural made entirely of handcrafted glazed ceramic tiles, including tiles created by Santa Clarita residents.
Also in the community center is the Iconic Gas Pump Bike Rack. A functional work of art that doubles as a bike rack. Integrated into the bike rack is a service station for minor bike repairs, including a pump and tools, Shapiro said.
Santa Clarita’s other notable sculptural installations include “Fire Pit” at Fire Station 156 in Valencia, “IMAG_NE” at the Valencia Library, “Willie Johnston” at Newhall Veteran’s Historical Plaza, and “Saugus Memorial Obelisks,” two obelisks associated with Covered with 28,000 Italian stones are mosaic glass tiles honoring the two students killed in the 2919 Saugus High School shooting.
Prior to the formation of the Arts Commission, numerous public art projects were installed in Santa Clarita, including the 2006 Art Can Project. The 55-gallon painted steel barrels are used as functional art and are located in Newhall.
One of Santa Clarita’s first art installations was the water feature at the Santa Clarita Metrolink Station in 1994.
The California Bear Project, developed by the city in August 2004, installed life-size fiber optic representations of a California grizzly bear throughout Santa Clarita from 2005 to 2018.
Among the 15 murals and paintings in Santa Clarita is a series of murals painted in Newhall on Main Street in 2007 commemorating Santa Clarita’s western heritage. Art also adorns the Santa Clarita Skate Park and Aquatics Center, public libraries, and other locations.
poetry on the sidewalk
The 30 street poetry installations are scattered across Santa Clarita, waiting to be found like hidden gems in the dust. The Santa Clarita Sidewalk Poetry Program is a collaboration with the city’s Department of Public Works on a sidewalk restoration program that selects approximately 10 poems each year to be stamped on damaged sidewalks that are being repaired.
Three more sculptures await installation at Canyon Country Community Center. H&E Design’s steel artworks “In the Wind”, “Amongst the Wildflowers” and “Canyon Sunrise” will depict the western bush jay, wildflowers and canyon sunrise inspired by the Santa Clarita area.
Currently, Santa Clarita has issued a call for artists to design a mural for the newly opened Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station on Golden Valley Road.
Shapiro said the Vista Canyon Metrolink Station will also include an art installation honoring the Chinese immigrants who worked on the Santa Clarita Valley railroad.
The Arts Commission meets on the second Thursday of each month at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 1st Floor of City Hall, 23920 Valencia Blvd., Santa Clarita, CA 91355.
To find all public art locations in Santa Clarita visit https://santaclaritaarts.com/publicart/