The Napa Valley Register of March 27 reports that Napa’s Public Art Steering Committee has endorsed adding a quartet of public art projects to the city’s next yearly budget. The package includes a $350,000 artwork to be installed in the triple-roundabout at First Street and California Boulevard. I recommend this project be dropped for reasons of safety and art.
The three-ring circus at First and California is a challenge to drive with several choices guided by pavement lines and arrows. Local drivers don't yet seem to understand roundabout basics, primarily right-of-way, so one must be highly attentive to other drivers as well as to pavement guides. Installing a large object designed to attract attention implies distracting drivers, thereby decreasing safety in the complex.
Public artworks should be placed where the public can view them at leisure. That means where many people are typically at rest or walking (or even bicycling since it's easy to stop a bike for a view). It's unrealistic to expect vehicle drivers to view artworks along the roadway, even if it were safe to look at art instead of the road. Maybe walkers heading east on the freeway bridge will enjoy the view before entering the roundabout, but their overall experience is hardly pleasant since one must walk across five separate lanes of traffic to pass through the complex along First Street. This is not a good location for enjoying art.
This project would detract from safety, and be a waste of money and of art.
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