"Imagine That" by artist Tom Williams. Lincoln Park, Los Altos, California.
I got a call this week from someone looking for Faye Chapman. Faye is my late mother, and since I kept the family land line when I moved into the family home last year, this kind of call isn't uncommon.
Usually it is someone looking for a donation. But this time the call contained a surprise.
The caller was a young reporter from the Los Altos Town Crier who wanted to speak with my mother because she was on the city's Public Sculpture Committee. The reporter was so abashed when I told her my mother was dead, I ended up comforting her.
The surprise was that I had not known about this compartment in my mother's life. She had never mentioned it. So, I went on the city's web site and there she was: still listed as a member of the Public Sculpture Committee.
I can only speculate: but I think my mother (and father, as they were always a team) got involved in this when our city began soliciting designs for a Veterans' Memorial in 1997. Mom and Dad were in their seventies then: still healthy and active. Like everyone in our family, they had strong likes and dislikes.
The City of Los Altos has had a public art program since 1985. I enjoyed seeing it blossom over the years as I came home on visits. And though all of the art--mostly sculpture, as it sits outside--is striking, a great deal of it is non-representational.
"Space Dance for Peace" by
"Pax Nova" by
"Magic Fish" by Hardy Jones, Los Altos Main Library.
I suspect my folks worried that the Veterans' Memorial might end up looking like a big Peace Cube or something. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Perhaps--and I don't know this for sure--thanks to their input, and the input of many others in town, the Veterans Memorial was a representational figure. A figure of a soldier. And, like an American soldier, this one was just a little bit larger than life.
Veterans' Memorial, Shoup Park, Los Altos, California.
"We loved seeing kids," Dad said. "They always made us think of home."
In fact, when he returned from Japan following the last bloody battle of World War II, my mother asked him how it was, and he reportedly said: "Those Japanese kids were really cute."
This, I believe, are the origins of my mother's civic involvement near the end of her life. A nice coda, for a daughter to stumble across. I wish she had talked about it.
I notice the committee meets monthly and I do wonder that someone hasn't noticed Faye's absence since her death in 2009.
I think I better call them. According to the city's web site, Mom's term runs through 2013!
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