Marin County officials unveiled an online public art database and map that includes more than 150 listings and is searchable by city, town and art type.
The impetus for the project came from the county’s 2019 Arts and Culture Plan, which seeks to enhance Marin as an arts resource, among other goals.
The project was presented to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. The effort is a collaboration between the county’s Department of Cultural Services and the Department of Information Services and Technology.
Pieces include the sea lion sculpture by Al Cibrian in Sausalito, the bronze Blackie horse sculpture by Albert Guibara in Tiburon, and the 10,000 Buddhas painting by Amanda Giacomini at Point Reyes Station.
The online map, a free service, includes murals, sculptures, art installations, painted aid boxes, mosaics and fountains. The map also offers search tools for the public to find movies, theater, artwork, music programs and arts education offered by non-profit organizations.
One of the featured artists is Ernesto Sanchez of west Marin, who has sculptures in Bolinas and Point Reyes Station.
“Having accessible outdoor art for all to enjoy enhances the appreciation of life in general,” Sanchez said. “Art survives time, meaning that years from now, these outdoor artworks will continue to be seen and feed the hearts and imaginations of the viewer.”
In 2001, Sanchez installed the Bolinas Spirit House, a walkable environmental sculpture where members of the public leave written messages. It has become a makeshift memorial, he said.
“Members of the city leave pictures of beloved community members who have passed away,” Sanchez said. “Public Art as a Healing Power.”
Libby Garrison, spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Cultural Services, said Sanchez was one of the first artists she spoke to in 2019 when she first “started with this crazy idea.”
“I love public art,” Garrison said. “I want to see art everywhere. I started researching what we have in Marin. I couldn’t find a kind of sign or database for everything.’
It turned out that most resources were specific to cities, so Garrison tried to create a centralized repository. She reached out to agencies, artists and other cultural sources to fill out the map. One challenge: Many of the artists associated with long-term public artworks are no longer alive, she said.
“I literally started driving around Marin and finding things that were visible and free,” she said.
The process was delayed by the pandemic, but early this year Garrison was able to resume it. She and the county mapping department were able to put all the locations on the map.
“They were really excited because it’s an interesting cultural project,” Garrison said.
Sharon Valentino, chairwoman of the Mill Valley Arts Commission, said several of Mill Valley’s art installations are listed on the map, but more information about works and artists will be added.
“The program is designed to bring the power and enjoyment of art into our everyday experiences of our natural environment through the transformation of ordinary objects, so this new art card is a great tool for us,” she said.
Valentino said the city plans to add the county’s art map to the city’s website and the commission’s webpage.
“The Arts Map is a wonderful tool for the public to appreciate and experience the wealth of art in Marin, for cities’ outreach efforts, and for schools to use as enrichment and instructional tools,” she said.
Arts supporters said the map advances the county’s cultural goals of expanding exposure to public art and cementing the county’s reputation as a hub for the arts in the Bay Area.
“Public art is a powerful catalyst for everything we value and strive for in Marin,” said Gabriela Calicchio, director of the county’s Department of Cultural Services. “We hope people will use this new tool to discover art both on and off the beaten track, and have a deeper experience and appreciation for art in their own communities.”
The project remains under development. After her debut, Garrison said she received more information about other pieces to include.
“It will be an ever-changing and ever-evolving database that will always be fun to update,” she said.