Alhambra Reservoir | 1 November 2002
Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission Art in Public Places Program

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Some Conceptual Guidelines

a. Involve the community in a hands-on component of the project.
b. Bring attention to the everyday function of the reservoir.
c. Exploit the monumental presence of the entire structure.
d. Consider local history.
e. The final work should appear as a cohesive whole not as add-ons to a hulking backdrop.

Aerial Map & Clock

Centered on the West Side of the reservoir wall, between the two sets of windows and extending two hundred feet in each direction, is the semblance of an aerial map. At the center of the map is the Alhambra reservoir, indicated by a circular form. This circle is the destination of the organic path of waterways depicted on the north side of the tank, while on the south side stretches a grid indicating an urban community supply system.

Raised on brackets from the wall, the aerial map will appear as a ribbon of galvanized steel casting long linear shadows on the reservoir's surface in the afternoon sun. During the evening all two hundred plus feet of the aerial map will be back lit using side-glow optical fiber, the color of the light will be a deep blue.

The circle representing the reservoir will also double as a minimalist clock visible day or night from I-80. The face of the clock will be an LED screen of deep blue color when illuminated and black when not. The clock will run on a twelve hour cycle, starting as a thin blue pie slice around one o'clock and growing to fill the circle by twelve, the circle once full of blue light will then click off (to black) and the cycle starts again.

Water Vessels

Ringing the top edge of the reservoir (above the aerial map) and the second row of windows (just below the aerial map) are two sets of vessels. The vessel design is taken from traditional historic water containers found both in the original Alhambra in Granada, the old Alhambra Theatre in Sacramento and the relief above the main entrance to the Alhambra Reservoir itself. My vessels are made of ultra lightweight architectural grade synthetic concrete, with a finish that matches the existing concrete surface. This will give the appearance of being part of the original structure. Built into the bottom of the vessels is a tiered shelf containing a floodlight that will illuminate each vessel with blue light in the evening. The vessels are approximately twelve feet high, four feet in diameter and weigh approximately three hundred and fifty pounds each.

Inserted vertically down the front surface of the vessels that ring the top of the reservoir are blue LED strips. Using a software program that simulates the daily water draw and re-supply, these LED strips will be programmed to monitor the interior water level of the tank on a daily basis.

The second set of vessels, below the aerial map, will house the expressive drawings and writings produced by the community specifically for this project. This second set of vessels provides storage for another valuable commodity in the community.

Community Based Element & Catalog

Utilizing the three k-12 schools in the area I will organize workshops to develop drawings and writings both by the students and their families which will be permanently stored in the vessels below the aerial map. During a feasibility meeting it was suggested that I do a presentation at semi annual family night meetings. These meetings are often attended by three generations of former students and community members participating as parents, grand parents and great grand parents. From meetings like these I will organize the making and collecting of the community documents.

Also discussed at length was the documentation of the project in the form of a catalog. Included in the catalog along with the documentation of the fabricating and installation of the work would be examples of the stored artwork, writings, photos of participants and a CD listing each participant and the work they have contributed. Copies of the catalog would be stored in each of the school's libraries and at the Sacramento Metropolitan Art Commission, other copies could be made available at cost. Each of the vessels would have an inlayed number visible from the ground. These numbers would correspond to participant's name groupings in the catalog. A person could look up their name with the corresponding number and then locate the vessel that contained their expressive work at the site. As the years go by, the memory is challenged.