Thursday, July 31, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

The scoop on a sculpture of shovels? It’s about stories

Artist Christopher Fennell poses proudly with "Canoe Wave," which used 60 aluminum canoes for a Lewis and Clark monument in Lewiston, Idaho. Fennell will build a sculpture out of recycled shovel heads at the UC Davis Arboretum gateway. Courtesy photo

By
From page A1 | April 03, 2013 |

You can help
What: Donate used shovels, spades, gardening trowels
When: Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum spring plant sales: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. April 6, April 28 and May 18
Where: UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden Teaching Nursery at Garrod Drive, across from the Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital
Note: Donations also may be made from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays at the city offices, 1818 Fifth St.

The way Christopher Fennell explains it, bits of ideas and images are loaded into his mind — his “gumball machine,” he calls it — and, once he’s slept on them, pop out as sculpture designs.

Sometime in late summer or early fall, Fennell will weld together a 17-foot-wide, 16-foot-tall and 10-foot-deep gateway at the east end of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden as part of a joint project with the city of Davis.

Fennell, an Alabama native, had loaded up shovels, swirling schools of fish he saw in an aquarium, vine leaves, trellises and gardens into his gumball machine by the time he saw a call for designs for the Davis project. That’s when it clicked:

“When you garden, you use shovels to move dirt around. I was looking at shovels one time and noticed they looked like a vine. If you could take a shovel and curve it, it would look like a vine leaf and it would look like an arrow. So in the gateway you have all the shovels, all these arrows, all pointing the garden, that are moving around.

“It’s also like schools of fish I saw in an aquarium. I saw how they all move and I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll do my shovels like that — like fish schooling, so that all of them are moving to the left or the right but off about 20 degrees. Like gardeners using shovels, they’re all doing it their own way.”

In 2011, at the recommendation of the Davis Civic Arts Commission, the Davis City Council unanimously approved spending $40,000 toward a gateway, which will be the first city art project on university property.

A committee of campus, city and community representatives liked what they saw in Fennell’s design, plucking it from among 66 submitted.

Depending on which way a pedestrian is headed, the gateway will open to the growing Arboretum or into downtown, as part of the ongoing effort to make it an arts destination.

Fennell likes that his metal trellis will echo another with live vines in the Davis Commons shopping center at First and E streets.

He envisions it as a pretty interesting form from a distance that, as it’s approached, reveals what it’s constructed from: twisted metal pipes and shovel heads.

Those who donate a shovel will receive a coupon that can be used toward the purchase of a new one from Davis Ace. It’s the old ones Fennell is interested in.

“Things that are used have their own patina to them, and that patina tells of all the times it’s been used. As a sculptor, you’re communicating through objects. If you use an object that has a past, it’s like using more adjectives, more adverbs.

“You put them together, and they tell a bigger story. Hopefully, you’ll come into this garden thinking of your own past and how you’re tied to this.”

The reuse of old objects is an idea Fennell has returned to again and again with success, using donated lawn mower blades to make blades of grass, for instance. He did that in Maine. There, folks even stopped to bring him more blades as he worked, taking time to tell him about their city.

One of his first sculptures in that vein was a temporary one: a tornado made of bicycles. Fennell had “The Wizard of Oz” in mind as he welded it together. But as he hung out near the finished sculpture, though, a different kind of magic happened.

He heard the curious who’d come close to investigate and point out this bike or that and tell one another about a bike they’d once ridden as a kid or pedaled in a race.

Turns out, they had gumball machines all their own, filled with colorful memories.

— Reach Cory Golden at cgolden@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8047.

Comments

comments

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Local therapists bring ‘Daring Greatly’ movement to Davis

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Davis area youths learn wilderness survival skills

    By Charlotte Orr | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Governor says immigration solution is a priority

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Firefighters keep Yosemite blaze far from sequoias

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Police nab three for vehicle theft

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Crews battle grass fire near Davis

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Sorting out the claims after pipe break: Who pays?

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    As farmland subsides, aquifer worries mount

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Pogledich named Yolo County counsel

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Tuleyome launches Kickstarter campaign to publish a children’s nature book

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Davis teen on California team for national horticulture competition

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Truth and authenticity on radio program

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Senior sing-along held monthly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    .

    Forum

    A rose by any other name

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Ross Douthat: Democrat, Republican patterns are changing

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A6

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

     
    Civilians are innocent victims

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Thanks for your kindnesses

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Questions, questions, questions

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Speak out

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Sports

    River Cats snap three-game losing streak

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Davis Water Polo U10 girls are golden

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1, 1 Comment

    Aggie Silva mixed school and strikes; wins Reno tourney

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Lucky No. 7: Giants snap losing streak

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Davis Rugby teams wrap up summer season

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

     
    DHS tryout schedule updated; physical packets due

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

    49ers WR Brandon Lloyd enjoying return to NFL

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Hammel struggles in A’s loss to Astros

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    .

    Features

    Happy 103rd birthday!

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A2

     
    Fay Libet: 100 years young

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Future subscriber: Sonya Theresa Arnold

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Wedding: Alpers – Halprin Jackson

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Engagement: Snyder-Oerman

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Arts

    Landscape exhibition returns to Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    Hear live music at Monticello

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    New KDRT show features touring musicians

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Hot City heats up Winters gazebo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Enjoy some Mischief at First Saturday event

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    British organist to play in Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Native American dancers to perform in Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Winters stages ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Thursday, July 31, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6