Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sculpture Sprouts Downtown

Sculpture Sprouts Downtown
By Ben Antonius

John Ballou, a Benicia artist, works on his 'Tree of Life' downtown on Monday. (Mike McCoy/Daily Republic)

FAIRFIELD - Downtown will soon get one more tree - this one made of metal.

"Tree of Life," a sculpture by Benicia artist John Ballou, will be unveiled in the next month after three years in the making.

The design was actually cooked up for another project. Ballou submitted it when the city was looking for a Civic Center art project. He didn't win, but the reviewers liked his proposal enough to ask if they could use it elsewhere.

The project eventually sprouted near the courtyard of the Center for Creative Arts on Texas Street.

"For me, I think it's actually a better location," he said.

The sculpture has a 6-foot concrete base and is made of steel. "Tree of Life" is the first time Ballou has worked with steel. He said is mostly known for his etchings and paintings, and has experience working with bronze.

Ballou said steel was more appropriate for the size of the project.

"I actually thought I could get more back for your buck" with steel, he said. "I wanted something high because I knew it was going into these trees."

He said the 10 or so pieces of the sculpture were assembled in Vallejo. They have been bolted and welded together in Fairfield.

The metal is a type of steel that contains copper and chromium, which help it better handle the elements and retain a natural brownish-red color.

"It's here for the duration," he said.

Reach Ben Antonius at 427-6977 or bantonius@dailyrepublic.net.

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