Rue Whittaker Honored for Indigo Animal and Dame Eleanor Marmot

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(Jeff Hyeman, Photographer)
Rue Whittaker with her sculpture Indigo Animal and Dame Eleanor Marmot in front of the Orinda Community Center, 28 Orinda Way.

    The public is invited to attend a reception honoring sculptor Rue Whittaker Saturday, Nov. 20, from 2 – 4 p.m., outdoors at the Orinda Community Center. Look for the 650 lb. seated, five-foot tall, bright blue tapir-like mammal, “Indigo Animal” and a much smaller brown animal, “Dame Eleanor Marmot” just waiting to make new friends.
    The City of Orinda Art in Public Places Committee (APPC) and the Lamorinda Arts Council (LAC) are hosting the reception jointly.
    The two characters on display began as a gleam in Whittaker’s eye when she started writing Indigo Animal: The Complete Trilogy.
    “Indigo Animal appeared to me as a gender neutral character,” said Whittaker. “So I suggest we use the pronouns ‘they’ and ‘their’ to think about Indigo.”
    The book can be described as an “interior journey” to be started and stopped wherever one likes. Page one states the reason for Indigo’s quest: “Every morning, Indigo Animal wonders, ‘What is my purpose in life?’”
    Whittaker, who is a psychotherapist in private practice, said the book uses active imagination (in the manner of Carl Jung) to tell Indigo’s story. The 320-page book, richly illustrated, can be found at the Orinda Library and Orinda Books.
    When Whittaker and her husband met sculptor and APPC volunteer John Toki at his Richmond studio, he suggested she build a large scale “Indigo Animal” using ferrocement. Toki referred her to APPC, and the committee agreed to locate an appropriate site and help install the art.
    An armature with welded steel rods (rebar) was used to create Indigo’s shape. Whittaker used steel wire with large needles to sew chicken wire over the armature. Next she applied a scratch coat of stucco. After shaping and painting the ferrocement, Indigo was placed on a 42” circular base of galvanized steel coated with special paint for durability. The sculpture was then connected to the base with internal steel rods for safety.
    Whittaker said many people helped bring the sculpture to completion.
    “I want to thank APPC committee members Rich Thompson, Ted Urban, Susan Mautner, Shelly Hubner, Jane Zeurcher, Richard Westin and Steve Danziger; John Toki for the idea and help at his studio where I learned about ferrocement; Jessica Jordao, who was a stalwart helper from start to finish; plus, Martin Rickert, Ying Ling Lin, Andrea Brower and Andrea Hendrickson,” she said.
    This is a rain or shine event. If weather is inclement, attendees are advised to follow the signs to Room 8, which has its own outdoor access to the left of the main entrance to the Community Center at 28 Orinda Way.
    Learn more about APPC at www.artspaceorinda.org or email orindaparksrec@cityoforinda.org. For more information about LAC, visit www.lamorindaarts.org or email info@lamorindaarts.org.

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