Bright Underbelly

Submitted by LC Studio Tutto

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Client: City of Sacramento

Location: Sacramento, CA, United States

Completion date: 2016

Artwork budget: $150,000

Project Team

Artist

Hennessy Christophel

LC Studio Tutto

Artist

Sofia Lacin

LC Studio Tutto

Public Art Agent

Tre Borden

Overview

Bright Underbelly transforms a 70,000 square foot concrete section of Interstate-80 into an immersive, abstract painting capturing the history and local ecology of the site. The finished piece serves as a cultural landmark, beautifying one of the most popular and diverse gathering places in the City of Sacramento: the site of the largest farmers’ market in California. The project was developed by LC Studio Tutto, in collaboration with the City of Sacramento and the California Department of Transportation. Funding was secured through private interests including local neighborhood associations, Kaiser Permanente, and the California Endowment.

Goals

LC’s vision for Bright Underbelly was to transform a bleak utilitarian structure into a cultural landmark that mirrors the life and energy of the surrounding community.
For over 30 years, the Sunday Farmers’ Market in Sacramento, the largest of its kind in California, has been held each week under a concrete stretch of freeway. Rather than covering the structure, the goal was to enhance this structure and bring the space to life. LC created a design that captures the history, local ecology, and community use of the space. The painting transforms the structure with images of sycamore trees that once grew on the site. The mural transitions through the seasons, connecting visitors to the cycle that dictates the regional agriculture. Between the branches and leaves, 25 species of local wildlife are depicted. The massive artwork defines one of the most popular and diverse gathering places in Sacramento.
Public art introduces fine art to daily life, with no doors for entry. Thoughtful public art projects like Bright Underbelly use art as a tool to strengthen communities by engaging with a broad and diverse audience. Work like this helps develop a creative, inclusive community - requisite for building a healthy and vibrant city.

Process

Bright Underbelly represents a new model for collaboration between artists, civic entities, both national & regional organizations, and the community.
LC saw the opportunity to transform one of the most diverse gathering places in Sacramento: the site of the Sunday Farmers’ Market. Without a grant or civic call for art, the artists crafted a cross-sector collaborative path to see their vision realized.
To secure permission for Bright Underbelly, the artists worked with the City of Sacramento and CalTrans. The artists worked closely with CalTrans to design artwork that would resonate with the site, while addressing legal and safety parameters. The City of Sacramento agreed to ensure that the artwork is maintained in perpetuity.
Funding for the project was secured through partnerships with community leaders and organizations that share a passion for healthy communities, with the largest contributions from Kaiser Permanente and the California Endowment.
Upon completion, LC organized a series of events for donors, public officials, and the community. The culminating event was a Farmers’ Market Feast beneath the artwork. In partnership with a renowned farm-to-table restaurant, the team hosted a 400-person dinner under the freeway, prepared with ingredients purchased at the Sunday Farmers’ Market that morning.

Additional Information

A 70,000 square foot overhead canvas, Bright Underbelly is the most expansive fabrication LC Studio Tutto has undertaken. Lacin and Christophel spent five months on site reclining in retrofitted scissor lifts, using 1/2” brushes to paint the intricate outlines of sycamore branches and local species. The freeway had been constructed using a 4’ x 8’ concrete form, which provided a perfect grid for the artists to translate their imagery. Each day Lacin and Christophel painted 24 of these 4’ x 8’ sections to complete Bright Underbelly in five months.