Unexpected Art: While Museums are Closed, Tour Outdoor Art

bike tunnel art
A cement tunnel and chain-link fence take on new life. in the UC Davis arboretum. The piece, "I am Quercus Lobata" is by Carly Yakso, 2014, acrylic. (Michelle Villagomez/UC Davis)

As the Thanksgiving weekend is upon us, you might put away your isolation doldrums by taking a walk around Davis. Despite closed museums, there is art and beauty to be seen around town and on campus. This story and photos were compiled by former News and Media Relations intern Leigh Houck and current intern Michelle Villagomez. We also link to a photo essay of fall scenes accompanied by poetry that appeared in UC Davis Dateline this week. You can take this "art walk" without leaving your dinner table.

A life-size giraffe outside a hotel, a giant mosaic cat next to an art gallery, a burka-wearing skateboarder next to a bank. A mural with colorful flora and fauna of the Davis area found in an underpass in the Arboretum. What do they have in common? All of these quirky pieces are works of art installed right in downtown Davis.

You might wonder why Davis plays host to so many pieces of public art. The aforementioned pieces, along with dozens more, are part of the Davis Transmedia Art Walk. According to its website, "The Davis Transmedia Art Walk is the first of its kind in the country."

The artwalk includes 30 public murals, 37 sculptures, 14 galleries and museums and one art garage. The artworks are permanent and available to view year-round. The pieces are concentrated in downtown Davis but are also scattered across campus and throughout the Arboretum. On Davis campus, you’ll see the iconic eggheads scattered from outside of Peter J. Shields Library to across the UC Davis School of Law just off of the Arboretum. In the Arboretum, you will find a shovel gateway and unique benches in the shape of a butterfly or a leaf. Depending on your pace, you can take a walking tour and view all the pieces within an hour or two. Click here for a map of the Artwalk. And, catch theses Arts Blog stories about Artboretum in this two part series published this summer in the Art Blog. 

Several of the artworks on the map are starred with an asterisk. These are the “transmedia" pieces, each one embedded with RFID computer chip with interactive features. With a free cellphone app, which you can readily download, you can scan the chip to discover a wealth of information about the art on view, including interviews with the artists and discussions of the meaning and relevance of each piece. You can even leave your own comments on the chip to complete the circle of discovery.”  

Detail of mural
A detailed view of the bike path mural begs a closer look. So go see it. (Michelle Villagomez/UC Davis)

Interested in taking the Davis Transmedia Artwalk? Just grab your RFID-enabled cell phone, lace up your sneakers, and go.

Catch autumn photos set to poetry 

As an added attraction, you can take a virtual art walk as you read poetry by Professor Emeritus Gary Snyder set to photos of campus in a story posted just this week in UC Davis Dateline. Photos by Gregory Urquiaga, UC Davis.

orange tree

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