The City of Ojai Public Arts Program

Ojai Public Art

Mark Benkert. Elliot

On May 22, 2003 the Ojai City Council enacted ordinance No. 765, to create funding for public art. The Public Arts Program requires that construction projects greater than $300,000 devote funding towards acquisition and installation of public art. This ensures and preserves the continued richness of the arts community and Ojai’s tradition as an art oasis. Click here for the complete Public Arts Code.

Public Art matters! It creates gathering places that foster social interaction, lifts the human spirit, and engenders positive community feeling. In 2003, a Public Art Ordinance was adopted by the City of Ojai as part of its Municipal Code. New developments covered by the ordinance must set aside two percent of the value of the project up to $1 million, and one percent of the value in excess of $1 million, for public art. (The requirement does not apply to residential developments of less than five units, nonprofit social service projects, and affordable housing projects.) As a result, Ojai now boasts numerous public art installations that are enjoyed by citizens and visitors alike.

Rotary Park, for example, features Ted Gall’s “Freedom Chase,” a sculpture of a horse towering over the stone wall surround and welcoming all to downtown Ojai. Cluff Vista Park’s Overlook Circle Fountain is graced at both ends by stone worker Paul Lindhard’s Guardian Spirits, and wound around its pergolas are “Corona de Robles,” sculpted copper oak leaves and branches by Jan Sanchez. Over at the Bryant Street Industrial Park, “The Business of Bees” by artist Chris Provenzano graces the courtyard at 407C and 407D. Downtown’s Arcade Plaza houses the Matilija Poppy Fountain by Sandra Kay Johnson; “Elliott the Bear,” a sculpture by Mark Benkhart; and artist Sylvia Raz’s “Early Bird Shopper.”

Most recently, the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa chose local artist Pamela Grau to complete two large pieces including a triptych that welcomes guest to its main lobby. Local artists Richard Keit and Mary Kennedy of RTK Tiles have designed a beautiful tile fountain for the front entrance to a new tasting winery being developed along West Ojai Avenue across from the Ojai Valley School. Most recently, Ojai public artist Doug Lochner was selected in a limited competition for his playful public art elements that will be an integral part of the new playground at Libbey Park. These are but a few examples of Ojai’s public art. Click on the link to see more.

How is public art chosen? In 2014, the Public Art Ordinance was updated and a Committee to Approve Public Art (CAPA) was appointed by the Arts Commission to provide oversight for the Public Art Program. The CAPA comprises the three members of the Arts Commission’s Public Art Committee, one member of the community with extensive experience in public art, and a member of the City’s Planning Commission.

The five-member CAPA reviews all aspects of the Public Art being proposed at a public meeting. Several factors are considered, including quality, media, style, design, environment, permanence, and diversity. CAPA recommends to the Arts Commission whether to approve the proposal. So that the artwork is an integral part of the development project, a building permit is awarded only after the Public Art proposal has been approved by the Arts Commission.

Meetings of the Committee to Approve Public Art (CAPA) are open to the public and posted at City Hall and on its home page. Current CAPA members are: Christine Golden (chair), Roger Conrad, Mark Lewis, Mimi Moore, and Mac Lojowsky. City Deputy Manager Steve McClary serves as the staff liaison to both CAPA and the Arts Commission. For more information regarding Ojai’s public art program, contact Commissioner Christine Golden.

For more information on the following, please click below: