Christopher Rosacker

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April 11, 2013
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Golden poo sculptures ahead on trail outside Nevada City

Among the seven teams of artists proposed to provide art along the Tribute Trail leading out of Nevada City is a Sacramento artist who envisions a half-dozen, 3-foot tall, gold-colored sculptures of dog poo.

“Hopefully people get a chuckle, but hopefully it will have people step back and consider the environment and how we interface with it and our dogs,” said Nancy Fleming, who chairs the Art on Site project proposing the temporary art installations.

The topic was broached during a presentation about portions of the project inside Nevada City limits to the City Council Wednesday night. And while the council essentially had sway on only those pieces of art within the city’s borders, Councilwoman Sally Harris pointed out that whole trail is associated with the city.

“I think it is important that people see what you have proposed,” Harris said. “Especially the, uh, golden poop.”

The sculptures of scat are Sacramento artist Daniel Brickman’s brain child.

“Walking the trail, I noticed that most of the people were walking dogs. Then I started to notice an abundance of dog excrement along the trail,” Brickman was quoted in the presentation.

“Residents in Nevada City today are dealing with the effects of the Gold Rush, which is largely responsible for the population in the first place, just as a dog walker on a sunny Sunday afternoon must choose what to do about the pile of dog excrement in the path, deposited there as a result of another individual also allured by the bounty of nature.”

Brickman proposes between five and seven ceramic replicas of the piles of poo, each unique and painted gold. They would rise about 2 feet off the ground, he said.

The art project aims to have 10 artists on seven teams place art along the Tribute Trail. Each team would be paid $2,500, Fleming said, funded through a mixture of donors and grants, such as one from the National Endowment of the Arts, for which Art on Site is still soliciting matching grants.

The goal, Fleming said, is to install art that is specific to the watershed and visually of interest to get people “to think beyond what they know of the environment,” she said.

The Tribute Trail snakes west out of downtown Nevada City along Deer Creek into county territory and through public property. When it is finished, hikers will have access to a 9-mile loop through 40 acres on both sides of the creek from downtown Nevada City to the Seven Hills Business District and schools.

The $2.1 million trail project was created with funding from the California Natural Resources Agency and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to address fire safety improvements, from brushing large areas of the creek canyon and replanting with less dangerous drought tolerant vegetation.

The project has brought together an assortment of community partners including Sierra Streams Institute, The Sierra Fund, American Rivers, Bear Yuba Land Trust, Nevada County, Nevada City, the Nisenan Tribe, the Tsi-Akim Maidu, the Bureau of Land Management, Greater Champion Neighborhood Association, the Chinese Quarter Society and Save Our Historic Canals.

The four artists proposed to place pieces within Nevada City are Richard Baker, Lisa Blatt, a team led by Matthew Hebert and a team led Paolo Salvagione.

Baker, a Nevada City resident, proposes curating a display of images collected along the trail from a weather-proof digital camera that would be attached either to existing elements or on installed elements along the trail over the year of the Art on Site project.

“The images will likely be of animals and people,” Baker said in the presentation. “Most will likely be unrehearsed, but some may be posed as animals, or humans find the cameras and interact with them.”

Blatt, a San Francisco resident, proposes a podium to dole out instructions and questions to people to evoke their attention to various elements of the tail. San Diego resident Hebert, along with Reno-based Jared Stanley and Gabie Strong, from Los Angeles, propose sequential way-finding poems to celebrate the history and influence of Nevada City’s literary tradition along the trail.

Other artists propose wrapping rocks and boulders in steel and dissecting decaying elements on the trail. All the art is scheduled for removal after one year to return the trail to its natural state. Installations are aimed for a late August or early September implementation.

“We have been big supporters for the trail for years now,” said Steve Rothert, speaking behalf of his family whose private property would house the portion of the trail where Brickman’s poop sculptures are proposed to be place. “I’m not sure we would have chosen among all the options to have the piles of poop on our stretch, but we are supportive of the idea.”

After expressing some concern about the more than 40 pieces of art inhibiting access to the trail and responsiveness to maintenance issues, the council unanimously supported the art implementation.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call 530-477-4236.

“Hopefully people get a chuckle, but hopefully it will have people …consider the environment and how we interface with it and our dogs.”

— Nancy Fleming, Art on Site

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The Union Updated Apr 12, 2013 01:25PM Published Apr 13, 2013 12:35AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.