Vallejo’s Lost Art — The Full Report

Doug Darling
Beautification Design Review Board
City of Vallejo

 Foreword to full report by Doug Darling

We sell our lands, with what we have left, we farm the vision’s of Government Agencies such as HUD, MTC and ABAG. We let others decide what is best for our community.

We harvest what we sew, our crops are the result of watering the seeds of others. So much so, we are constantly occupied plowing the fields we have leased to others, for a lifetime. I tell you, we have lost our way.

When I began researching some missing Art from the early 60s, my goal was purely these physical Artifacts that you could, see and touch. They were made of steel, granite, acrylic, aluminum, redwood, bronze and more. It was a simple focus, expecting a simple and planned outcome, find them, restore them and return them to the Public, to the Community.

But, it didn’t turn out that way. What I considered a simple task of civic stewardship, turned into an into an unexpected History lesson. The more I researched, I couldn’t help but appreciate and respect the efforts and the results of the 1960s Redevelopment of Downtown Vallejo.

Lets face it, Vallejo has an amazing History! Going way back!

But this report is not just about history. It is also about harnessing the intent to Salvage it! This City is not just abusing physical property. It is manipulating and dismissing History. It is in my opinion, Municipal Malfeasance by way of ignorance and arrogance.

If you want something done in Vallejo, you better be prepared to do it yourself! Lately I have been referring to Vallejo as the City of Excuses. The words Underfunded and Understaffed are becoming our new Mantra. These are the go-to responses in the City Staff Handbook of Dealing with Progressive Citizens.

We, City of Vallejo, have to stop thinking in this way in order to stop operating in this fashion! As City Manager Dan Keen said during a City Council Budget Session earlier this year, “there will always be a crisis situation” when referring to the ability to address Council priorities. If we choose to believe that, than we might as well change the City Limit signs to read, WELCOME to VALLEJO the CITY of CRISIS.

Lately, staff has canceled 3 out of 4 of the last BDRB (Beautification Design Review Board) meetings. That is the reason I must come out from under that legislative rock, staff can stall items by canceling meetings. The BDRB is not the only Board or Commission to recognize this. This Public Report comes out because Civic Stewardship should not be tabled at the sole discretion of City Staff.

Public Works Dept. has not replied or respond to repeated requests to store the Hollow Bronze Posthumous Edition, “The Genius” safely indoors. Today, Oct 8, 2014, 5 months later, it is still outside.

As though it is none of my business. As though it is none of your business. Vallejo needs to create a Communications Policy. Simple transparency, honesty and communication would serve Vallejo much better than treating citizens as though its none of their business.

At what point was it determined that being Underfunded and Understaffed overrides Accountability and Obligation?

This Electronic Public Report is a condensed (yet complete) version of what was submitted to the City Clerk Oct 6th, to supplement a report from Staff to Council, a report on the Marina Vista Collection/Georgia Street Extension project.

Staff is to submit a report to Council on Oct 14th.

Since Staff is underfunded and understaffed, this report is intended to supplement the information being disseminated to staff on the 14th.

If, after reading this report, you would support the creation of a Public Arts Advisory Group, write to your Council members or come and speak to the matter on the 14th.


The complete 100+ page report is below as 3 downloadable PDF files:

MV 01s

MV 02s

MV 03s




'Vallejo’s Lost Art — The Full Report' have 11 comments

  1. October 11, 2014 @ 9:38 pm wharf rat

    I n 30 plus years I have never seen A CItizen , board Member or not produce a report/doccument of this magnitude … This is Historical
    what a shame Staff Was on the sidelines , had this been a collective effort Just imagine where We would be TODAY … if this kind of attention to Community and detail existed every day , there is no telling where we would be today ….Possibly re-righting history and the Bankruptcy that has defined Us … The Citizens have far more answers than Staff , and have the ability to vote AND RECALL ..
    SO watch your stuff THE PEASENTS ARE RESTLESS , BEWARE …………………………………….


  2. October 12, 2014 @ 1:40 pm craig

    Yes, what are we going to do about it?

    I enjoy teasing friends and acquaintances with “I live in the first capital of California”. They are mystified. I tell the story and they say thank you. Look around our city and you’ll be hard pressed to find much historical, apart from the 2 museums and M.I. itself.
    Much has been written about peoples, individuals, and places that have forgotten their past and therefore find it difficult to have a future. The continuity is important.

    Where is building #535?


    • October 18, 2014 @ 9:38 am Chris

      Bldg 535 is on Walnut Avenue–a long, two-story building on the west side of Walnut south of the Sports Center.

      Would anyone be able to guess that much of the Shipyard areas of Mare Island comprise a National Historic District that was first established almost 40 years ago?! That Historic District was greatly expanded in 1997. There are 2 museums in this town, one on Mare Island, and yet there is NO identity of the Mare Island National Historic District. Simply amazing.


      • October 18, 2014 @ 1:06 pm Publicus

        There are two types of historic districts on Mare Island. The National Historic Landmark District covers 4 distinct mission areas. It falls under the Antiquities Act of 1935 and is one of only 2,000 places significant in American history. And then there is the National Register District, a larger area that covers most of the older areas of Mare Island, designated under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Some of the buildings designated as National Historic Landmarks are gravely threatened by deterioration and neglect and some of those are indeed owned by the City of Vallejo.


  3. October 17, 2014 @ 7:01 pm Anonymous

    City Hall knows the public doesn’t want to see a statue with exposed private parts.
    That’s why the statue was “disappeared”… Vallejo is a conservative town.


    • October 18, 2014 @ 9:07 am Chris

      Vallejo is conservative, so THAT is the rationale for essentially discarding “The Genius”? Vallejo and all of California voted against same-sex marriage with Proposition 8 a few years ago, but judges paid no attention to that.
      It is doubtful that City staff gave that any thought at all–they just did not follow through on the supposed plans that had been established at the time because of willful ignorance or personal pique. But it is likely that the setting aside of these art pieces was due to simple carelessness and a lack of attention that extended for many years. But no matter; this is now and this must be moved forward with action and transparency.

      The pieces that have been found should be moved and stored indoors, and qualified experts brought in to assess and restore them to proper condition. Then some attention can be paid to future action.

      There is plenty of room to place these sculptures outdoors between the JFK Library and Mare Island Way, or on the south side of the JFK Library; decide on other locations for them one-by-one as most appropriate.

      Novak’s redwood Structure most certainly must be moved from its hidden location on Georgia Street to the Waterfront–or to the planned Promenade on Mare Island–after some restoration work on some of the timbers.

      In any case, ALL of these questions and actions should be left in the hands of the Beautification & Design Review Board, which must begin to hold public meetings.

      And there are other elements of public art in Vallejo that need to be attended to by this Board. This Board is to meet on the 2nd Thursday of each month. Councilmember Katy Meissner is the City Council liaison for this Board. The next scheduled meeting is November 13. Andrea Ouse, the Planning Manager, is Secretary of this Board. I would suggest that this scheduled meeting be HELD, not cancelled, and that an agenda that includes a discussion of the missing art pieces be published prior to the meeting.

      Another City Commission, the Commission on Culture & The Arts, has not met in over 6 years and its function suspended by City Council until July 2016.

      Considering that the art community has been transformed and revitalized in this town since 2008, this Commission MUST be revived and re-formed, and begin meeting in January or February 2015.


    • February 4, 2016 @ 1:01 pm GW

      This praise is coming way too late, but here it is none-the-less.
      I agree with wharf rat, Mr. Darling should be commended on his fine article even at this late date, he should receive a commendation for his in depth time consuming effort ….. but praise may never come, not in Vallejo, where City Hall is too conservative, lol, lol, lol…..

      City Hall, with the ever growing amount of employees, has no say so if I as a “conservative” want to see private parts on a statue, commissioned with taxpayer monies by people years ago who appear to not have been so puritanical as we appear to be in the present. A Vallejo resident, city employee may state their objection, but not during business hours, city hall is to remain neutral.

      People the world over travel to cities where “Art” is publicly displayed …and yes, there are breast/nipples and penises/ testicles and even associated horseplay displayed for all to see. But in Vallejo, whose art piece(s) is/are anatomically correct, it is a shameful thing to display what the sexes are born with? We will meet with certain doom, banished to Hell for all eternity should some of us take a gander at an exposed part of the human form. Shame on us…

      Are we forgetting that most of us are the result of a sex act utilizing the exact “tools” the creator gave many of us which are considered inappropriate to be displayed in a town whose many residents are shamelessly displaying their butt cheeks in Daisy Dukes while retrieving goods from low or high shelving at the grocery!

      Vallejo’s taxpayer has already paid for the art, how many times over nobody seems to know, nor do I want to really know because it may bring my blood to a boil. What we do have with certainty is taxpayer owned art, hidden away or even gracing someone’s home the way many people “acquire” heirlooms, because it may offend someone who wishes to keep their eyes peeled on the real live thing from behind sunglasses, but cannot bear for others who appreciate the human form, to see it displayed in stone cold materials. …and on top of that it is alleged that the conservative arm of the public objects to placing this art form before the innocent eye, lol, lol, lol…


  4. February 4, 2016 @ 2:23 pm wharf rat

    The Sculpture Genius is certianly ”Cherubic” in proportion , unlike the Elephants of Discovery Kingdom for instance , are they also subject to censorship of fig leaves ? or as was stated once re the Genius ”he should have on underwear” but these are not the issues needing attention , the total lack of respect for our cultural effects and heritage are criminal ! as might be the diversion of funds budgeted for the conservation and re-location of the Sculptures , cultural resources are protected by myriad laws ! as are grant funds and redevelopment funding accountability . Surely the project management group was bonded or at least accountable , someone has some explaining to do .


    • February 5, 2016 @ 11:08 am tramky

      Hmmm. What project management group is that? There is no project management group. City councilmembers come and go with the breeze, City staff management with somewhat less frequency, but Department managers of the most important departments do blow in and out of town with the wind.

      It is clear that the ‘lost art’ pieces have been adopted by some individual or group as a kind of pet project, and those involved with claim interest in the pieces without actually doing anything. If Pearlman’s recent piece is to be believed, the Mayor has brought in yet another ‘artist’ with some kind of concept for the Vallejo waterfront. The chance that this individual has any thought of the ‘lost art’ in that scheme lie somewhere between slim and none.

      Since the City Manager is already warning of a deficit budget in the upcoming Fiscal Year, it might be an idea to put the ‘lost art’ items up for auction with some art auction house. At least get a bit of cash for them and sink it into the Vallejo Housing Authority–they still need to meet payroll.


      • February 5, 2016 @ 3:25 pm GW

        Let me attempt to understand the issue.
        Vallejo is in possession of pieces, considered Art, that were at one time or another commissioned by someone within City Hall, at taxpayer expense. I am certain that not just one person made the decision to have xyz artists create whatever came to mind without any formal ideas presented that could be considered a cohesive attempt at planning for the future, a gift from then to now and beyond. To the City of Vallejo in Memory of, etc. ….

        If these pieces were private donations the rightful owners would have retrieved them by now and they would not decay behind some shed. As our present City Manager has already informed the peasants that we will be looking at a deficit in the very near future, it would be prudent to not commission additional pieces of “art” at this time for the waterfront or anywhere else. Whatever happened to the concept of making due with what you already have, in this case, “Art” hauled off in the hope that the taxpayer will eventually forget and therefore the spoils could belong to any interested party for the picking. …something along the lines of what happened at Mare Island, it was there, very few knew and when nobody looked ….. things, valuable ones, i.e. equipment etc. simply disappeared into private hands.

        I would consider it dereliction of duty to have none or very limited reliable records of transactions performed for tax payer funded projects in the city archives. How can a city as young as Vallejo not have documentation who made a piece of art, who commissioned it, how much did it cost and where was it supposed to be displayed for public viewing? After all this art was not commissioned when a chisel was the only implement used to document history.

        As a resident of this city I would hope that the funds we may be able to expand on further public art over the coming years, will be properly vetted, something for everyone so to speak. To use one artist and populate certain areas with his/her interpretation and creations would be highly irregular and improper.


        • February 5, 2016 @ 5:31 pm wharf rat

          Well stated ! within the Marina Vista literature on this site it shows the Landscape Architechure firm managed the selection and instalation of the Art Works , with the exception of the Genius the Artists selected were Bay Area based , and yes there was a formal process for selection of and qualifing the Artists , some were well known at the time while others became so in latter years . Seems we were doing many things better in the 60’s than today ! a wizened old Sculptor once said our collection was exceptional both in it’s selection and execution ! , I know nothing of any proposals by our Mayor , only that what is left of our public Art collection has regional and national signifigance , and yes finishing what we started was what our Parents once told us .


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