Client: Conversion Management Associates
Location: Walnut Creek, CA, United States
Completion date: 2022
Artwork budget: $337,190
Brad Oldham Sculpture
Brad Oldham Sculpture
Chandra Cerrito Art Advisors
Chaos theory asserts that the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can create a significantly different future, demonstrating the interconnectedness of all things and how even the smallest actions matter. “The Bee Effect” started with the artists imagined a small seed traveling on a gust of wind from nearby Mt. Diablo to this busy corner at the transit-oriented, mixed-use development near the BART station in Walnut Creek, California. Brad Oldham and Christy Coltrin captured the seed’s potential to create a monumental bouquet of poppies, which is a beloved flower in Northern California. Using low-maintenance, high-impact 316L stainless steel polished to a highly reflective finish with pops of translucent automotive paints, the artists added an array of golden yellows, oranges, and reds to the blooms of the 17-foot-tall sculpture. The poppy pods are equally interesting in their dancing silhouettes as if the little pod “heads” are expressively dancing. The sculpture has great sight lines and also offers up-close viewers points of discovery to engage with the narrative.
"The Bee Effect" has strong sight lines for vehicular traffic and rail commuters. The installation also includes pedestrian engagement points. There are "sky tubes" within the poppy bloom where the viewer can catch glimpses of the skies above that may kindle inspiration. There are also three stainless steel bees to be found. The critical role the bees play in polinating the poppies is foundational to the narrative. The artists hope that viewers will consider how they can create sparks of goodness to produce beautiful outcomes for the world to enjoy. "The Bee Effect" is a placemaking sculpture around which the local neighborhood (business and residential) can create a distinctive neighborhood personality.
Art consultant Chandra Cerrito curated a list of national artists for the real estate team development and ownership teams to consider. After capabilities were introduced and the Brad Oldham Sculpture team was hired, it was a tight team of ownership, consultant, and artists that worked through concepts and designs to get the most value and impact from the budget. The artists navigated the site restrictions (underground utilities, drainage, building awnings, and future retail use of space) like threading a needle to install a major sculpture on minimal ground space. The Brad Oldham Sculpture team designed, fabricated, delivered, and installed the artwork, carefully communicating with the client and local authorities.
Traditional symbolism around poppies often includes references to hope for a peaceful future and remembrances of those who have passed. This connotation adds a layer of meaning the artists embrace and expand upon to elevate the importance of even a single good deed. The highly visible, busy corner needed a pop of color, life, fun, and story to create a placemaking sculpture that resonates with residents and visitors alike. P.S. Notice how the bee has the reflection of the poppy in his eyes!