The City of Ojai Public Arts Program: Two Percent for the Arts

Public art matters! Its many benefits include the creation of gathering places, the fostering of social  interaction, and the lifting of the human spirit. In recognition of the power of public art, Public Art  Ordinance 765 was adopted in 2003 by the Ojai City Council. (Click here to view Ordinance 765) As a result, qualifying private and public development projects must set aside “Two Percent for the Arts” and use those funds to incorporate public art into their building plans. This ensures and  preserves the vibrance of the Ojai arts community as well as solidifying its identity as an arts oasis.  

One example of a publicly funded art project is the “Trimpin Sound Arch.” Situated at Libbey Bowl,  the Sound Arch is a motion-triggered sculpture that, when you walk under it, plays a series of  percussive notes. A second publicly funded artwork, “Fun for All,” includes a giant concrete lizard, a  ladybug, and an alphabet block entryway that defines the toddler area of the Children’s Playground  at Libbey Park.  

“Fortune Cookies,” is a series of fortune cookie sayings imbedded in the walkway that winds  through the Weil Tennis Academy’s campus quad. This artwork was part of the academy’s extensive  remodel. An intriguing stainless steel sculpture, “Evo-3” defines the lawn area in front of Sane  Living Center on Matilija Street. At night, the sculpture is backlit, casting mesmerizing laser-cut  images on the south facing wall that symbolically represent the Center’s philosophy.  

In 2019, the City’s seven member Arts Commission launched its own public art initiative, “The Paint  Box Project.” Unattractive gray utility boxes located on Ventura and Signal, at Libbey Bowl, and at  the Children’s Playground were transformed into unique and colorful works of art. (Click here to  read about The Paint Box Project.) 

These are just a few of the private and public development artworks that were made possible by  Ojai’s Public Art Ordinance.There are many more and several ways to visit and learn about all of the  amazing artworks to be found in Ojai.  

Start by picking up a copy of the Downtown Public Art Tour brochure, complete with photos and a  map, available at the Ojai Valley Museum or the Visitors Center. The Downtown Tour is a  approximately one-hour walking tour easily navigated on your own. Or, check the brochure to learn  how to schedule a docent led tour when available. The Downtown Tour brochure features QR Codes  to guide you to three additional tours: Along the Way, the East City Tour, and the West City Tour.  These tours are walkable for the able-bodied, but we recommend driving from location to location.  

You can also enjoy the tours from the comfort of home. Take a virtual tour of all four public art tours  as featured here on this website. (click here.) There is yet another option. In 2021, two of the  Commission’s Public Art Tours were filmed and can now be enjoyed on Public access Channel 10 or  right here: (click here.) 

For your enjoyment and edification we have included, in our tours, not only artworks funded by city  and private development, but also privately funded artworks and artworks that predate the passing of  the Art Ordinance. We think you may be surprised — and that you will definitely marvel — at the  abundance, uniqueness and quality of public art to be found within Ojai’s City limits. Enjoy!