New film tells story of Deer Creek Tribute Trail in Nevada City | TheUnion.com
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New film tells story of Deer Creek Tribute Trail in Nevada City

The Deer Creek Tribute Trail in Nevada City.
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Nevada City-based ART OnSite has released a short documentary film about its public art project on the Deer Creek Tribute Trail.

The new film tells how the project, completed in September 2013, was made, from conception to installation and finally the public’s reception.

The public art project, featuring art works by eight professional artists, is captured in the film as how it was planned to bring people and the natural environment together in an innovative and artistic way.



“The goal of the film was to tell the story of this unique project and to be a sort of ‘how to’ for other arts and environmental organizations,” said Nancy Nelson, the project’s vice chair.

The film features beautiful cinematography of the Deer Creek Tribute Trail and neighboring historic Nevada City.




The juried artists in the project were Richard Baker, Mark Baugh-Sasaki, Lisa K Blatt, Mark Brest Van Kempen, Daniel Brickman and Unmanned Minerals, an artist collective that includes Matthew Hebert, Jared Stanley and Gabie Strong.

The artists were selected based on proposals that best interpreted the culture, history and ecology of the Deer Creek watershed. The works ranged from hidden cameras capturing the flora and fauna on the trail to sculptures made with natural found materials to an interactive naturalist’s treasure hunt.

In 2013, ART OnSite was one of 80 projects nationwide to receive a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Initiative. Projects were selected for their ability to improve quality of life, encourage creative activity, create community identity and a sense of place, and help revitalize local economies.

“The project certainly met our goal which was to provide awareness about the Deer Creek watershed and bring people to the trail,” said Nelson. “It increased exposure to the trail by at least three times the number of people who had visited the trail in its first year.”

The film also touches on the importance of arts education. It follows the artists who participated in the artist in residence program and worked with local middle school students.

Together, artists and students visited the art installations on the trail and returned to the classroom to create their own works of art inspired by their discoveries and to discuss their experiences.

“It enhanced the awareness of the Deer Creek because there were not only residents who live here who were visiting it, but also tourists,” said Nancy Fleming, project chair. “It expanded their understanding of who we are as a community and what we can accomplish together.”

Completed in 2011, the Deer Creek Tribute Trail is a 9-mile cultural and ecological multi-use trail. Deer Creek is the reason for Nevada City’s being.

It was the location of the first gold discovery in the region, and subsequently the town, originally named Deer Creek Dry Diggins, sprang up on its banks. Over time Nevada City, as it came to be known, grew along and around Deer Creek.

The creek provided a water source, a transportation corridor, and a sense of place for the community and is still, to this day, a very important regional resource.


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