Latest Artworks Make a New Home Outside the Orinda Library

(Jeff Heyman, Photographer)
The crew poses with sculpture titled Ascending Dancers by Robert Holmes after their task of installing new art at the Orinda Library Plaza. (L-R, back) Justin Iredale, Jessica Jordao, Colin Hurley, Alex Nolan, Tom Franco, Steven Danziger and (L-R, front) John Toki, Rich Thompson and Ted Urban.

    Intense heatwave temperatures barreled down in downtown Orinda on the morning of Sept. 8, but that didn’t deter the crew tasked with taking down the existing public art installation and then prepping for a new one.
    Art students, local artists and supporters combined efforts with the Orinda APPC (Art in Public Places Committee), the recently founded VIVA (Volunteers for the Arts) and LAB (Local Artists Berkeley), a non-profit that installs public art with participating cities.
    Three works were removed and later some new pieces made their new home for the next year outside of the Orinda Library. These included the bronze sculpture Ascending Dancers by Robert Holmes and Shift by Pamela Stefl Toki, whose other abstract clay monoprints are among the pieces featured at the library in October.
    Anna Lijphart, a former resident who recently moved to the Oakland area, donated Ascending Dancers to the City of Orinda.
    Local artist Tom Franco, founder of the Firehouse Art Collective in Berkeley, helped coordinate efforts that day.
    “Art needs to be shared with as many people as possible, and this is a great experiential way to uplift the community,” he said.
    Franco said his collective is working with many visual artists and sculptors who are fresh out of college and older, established artists as well.
    “We’re emphasizing the youths involved because it really takes the community to do this art installation,” Franco said regarding VIVA’s mission. “As a group, we want to expand this and use this as a model that other cities can look at. It’s a fabulous model. They’ve done dozens of large art installations where other cities haven’t done any yet.”
    Franco emphasized the need for younger people to continue the work.
    “It’s important to keep this going through the next generations,” he said.
    As one who considers himself a folk artist, Franco said he, “represents images of the Bay Area California where I live, our shared global culture, as well as scenes of my inner life in the subtler realms of reality.”
    His wife and film producer, Iris Torres, filmed the event in the plaza.
    For more information about Franco’s art and the Firehouse Art Collective mission, visit
    John Toki, a Bay Area studio artist and retired adjunct professor from California College of the Arts (CCA) in Oakland, attended the installation. He’s an art textbook author and co-author of several books on ceramic sculpture. Toki was also Franco’s art teacher at CCA.
    “It’s important that the next generation of art students contributes to our society through the arts,” said Toki.
    He talked about the crucial experience the art students received during the installation.
    “They got an opportunity to learn how to run a crane and how to manifest large sculptures,” said Toki. “They don’t get that in college. With this, they get this real-life experience that is so valuable.”
    An educator for over 25 years, Toki retired as a faculty member from the CCA in 2007. Throughout his career he conducted workshops and lectured widely. Read more about Toki’s art at
    To find out more about LAB, see
    The Art in Public Places program, or “ArtSpace Orinda,” has placed outdoor sculptures in Orinda since 2007. Its mission recognizes artists as important cultural resources, installs artwork throughout the city to broaden public awareness and encourages dialogue about public art.
    To find out more about Art in Public Places, visit

David Fonseca can be reached at

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