Let’s up the public-art pitch game

SN&R pitches some good (and pretty bad) public-art concepts for the new arena

Even though the Koons is bought, the city will still spend another $1.5 million on public art at the new Kings arena site. The talent won't just be from locals, however, as the pool could draw from more than a dozen Northern California counties. Everyone will submit ideas for consideration during the summer, and the art ultimately will appear in four different locations: near the escalators inside the new arena, on digital screens at the arena's main entrance, at a plaza near J Street, and on a long wall facing L Street. SN&R isn't applying, but we want in on the public-art pitch game, too.

Invariably, there will be new murals downtown. We're not about to pick favorites or suggest locals for the gig. But, as a guiding rule, it would be nice to bring in an artist who speaks to youth culture, a muralist who can capture the wild energy of, say, a Takashi Murakami.

The new arena art also should embrace interactivity and technology—and it likely will, given that Kings owner Vivek Ranadive has christened our new arena “Downtown 3.0.” We're not against this, and we like how art can interact with smartphones, especially at night, when people's phones can dictate an artwork's color or appearance (see Boston's “Light Blades”). Sure, this is gimmicky and kitsch—but we're talking about public art at an arena, remember?

Also, why not be cheap. Along L Street, for instance: How about a vertical version of Chalk It Up!, a giant concrete wall that people can tag? Public chalk art is always fun, whether it's Ground Chuck outside Rubicon Brewing Co. in Midtown, or waiting for a table inside Mother. This would also function as a temporary art installation, since you could clean the chalk off every so often and start fresh. (You might think this is too pedestrian, too amateur. But, really, we'd rather have a wall of chalk than Damien Hirst's “Virgin Mother.”)

A lot of people are fixated on verticality when it comes to public art. But let's not forget that Sacramento is flat—and we should embrace this flatness. Downtown's history also exists underground—the city flooded numerous times. Is there a way that public art can go down—go low—instead of obsessing over up, up, up?

But, if we have to go north, perhaps—as one SN&R scribe suggested—we do so with a statue of our fearless leader, Mayor Kevin Johnson, as he single-handedly saved the Sacramento Kings from the ogreish Maloofs. It's befitting of the fairy tale surrounding the Kings arena's coming-to-fruition (see “A different arena story” by Cosmo Garvin, SN&R News, page 14). Also, it will be a reminder years from now of how we built the damn thing. And, if you're not a fan of K.J., look at this art as something for pigeons to poop on.

In conclusion, we're recommending chalk art, Kanye West album art, iPhone gimmicks, tunnels and K.J. Does that mean we're fired?