We all joke that Truckee is famous for its roundabouts. But in recent years, the very same roundabouts have become famous for another thing: public art. If you’ve lived in Truckee or been reading Moonshine Ink for a while (Build Us An Anthill or Giant Ant Sculptures Invade Truckee), you might remember that in 2016 somehow, overnight, some ants appeared in our beloved roundabouts. And, thanks to a push in our community by public art supporters such as the Town of Truckee, Truckee Public Art Commission (PACT), and others, these kinds of vibrant art pieces are popping up all over the town. 

FINDING YOUR FOLD: Artist Eric Burke creates site-specific murals internationally. He collaborated with Sierra Expeditionary Learning School students studying Mexican art and artifacts to create the story behind the art. Sections of the mural include art that depicts women as nurturers, lupine flowers, mountain peaks of the Tahoe area, and the unity of weaving and braiding.

The Community As Ecosystem piece you’ll soon read about below was co-created by Jennifer Standteiner of Mountain Forge, a family-owned blacksmith shop in Truckee, which features handcrafted, custom metal work. Standteiner is also the visual arts representative for PACT. She recalls that PACT was created through the Public Art Master Plan, a detailed instructive for rolling out public art projects, after Truckee became a California Cultural District in 2017.

THE POWER OF YET is an outdoor painted mural on an exterior wall at Alder Creek Middle School painted by Girl Scout Troup #197 in 2017. It is about futures and possibilities.

“I absolutely believe that public art serves a purpose in communities worldwide,” she said. “It’s usually funded by the public — nonprofits, government agencies. However, paying for it is still an issue because public art is still not valued as the essential component to a positive, healthy vibrant society.” 

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Standteiner joined PACT because she was inspired to help the group try to secure more funding for public art in the region. And the plan has worked, resulting in a lot more funding for projects for local artists. So as more art pieces began to pop up around town, one of the group’s projects was to create a catalog of all of the art in Truckee. 

“It’s very cool,” she said. “You could take this catalog and literally walk around and visit public art installations around town and learn something about them.” 

To date there are over 40 public art pieces in Truckee alone. The Truckee Public Art Inventory, released in 2020, is a resource where the community can read about the art pieces, see their location, who created them, and more. But Standteiner insists it’s just a skeleton. She recently helped PACT apply for grant funding to revamp the catalog, which will one day feature artist statements, more detailed information, and a QR code on every art piece that can be scanned to directly access the listing. The goal is for the public to learn about the piece from the artist’s perspective, she said.

EL DRAGON is based on the design of two second graders, Hope Smith and Florian Standteiner, who independently submitted Chinese dragon drawings for the bike rack design. It is meant to honor the Chinese who worked on the railroad in Truckee.

Sara Smith, the co-creator of the ecosystem piece, is also thrilled to see a host of public art pieces showing up in Town. When her piece was first installed, the collection was only just growing. 

“I’m a big believer in public art and the more art we have in our community, the better it is for everyone — for artists, community members, children being exposed to public art, visitors seeing that layered aspect of our community, it’s just better for everything,” Smith said.

Selected entries from the public art inventory are featured here.  

You can find the Truckee Public Art Inventory and see a list of all the town’s public art and their locations by clicking on the link.

Author

  • Le'a Gleason

    LE‘A GLEASON, a recent transplant from the Big Island of Hawai‘i, has happily transitioned from teaching yoga in the rainforest to driving powerboats, biking with bears, and learning how to fall gracefully on skis. She is passionate about writing and editing, as a means to share and connect with people, and thankful to be on the Moonshine team.

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