Pizarro: Shining scenes of childhood whimsy

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News May 26, 2012.

New public art in the Guadalupe River Park has managed to capture the whimsy of childhood — in aluminum.

Two scenes of children at play were unveiled Thursday at the park that snakes through downtown San Jose. One, titled “Ready or Not,” has kids playing hide-and-seek in the park near Julian Street. The other, “Prepare for Takeoff,” plays off the park’s spot in the flight path of Mineta San Jose International Airport. The scene shows one child pointing up at an imagined airplane with another readying a paper airplane for launch.

Shirley Lewis, the former San Jose city councilwoman and current president of the downtown Rotary Club, was the driving force behind the project. She enlisted a committee led by Hopkins & Carley attorney Jay Ross and Guadalupe River Park Conservancy Executive Director Leslee Hamilton. After weighing various options, the group discovered a hidden gem right in San Jose where the statues could be designed and produced locally: the foundry at San Jose State University.

Steve Davis and Ryan Carrington, who both received advanced degrees at San Jose State last year, were the artists who created the statues at the foundry over the past few months. The project, Davis said, “let us get in touch with our inner child.”

There’s room for more, too — if more funding sources are found. The Rotary Children’s Sculpture Walk allows for up to 10 total scenes that could follow a path from the Children’s Discovery Museum to the site near Coleman Avenue where the Rotary Club plans to build a play garden to commemorate its upcoming centennial.

“This project has far exceeded my expectations,” Lewis said, “because of the generous commitment of the talent, time and resources of many.”