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Public Art

Public art makes the places where we live, work and play 
more welcoming and beautiful - and creates a deeper interaction
between the community and its environment. It adds dimension
to civic spaces, which can lead strangers to talk to each other,
children to ask questions and someone in a hurry to stop and think.

1. Public Art Increases a Community's Assets...

Public art creates positive, memorable images that
enhance and help define the identity of a place.

Mosaics & Fountains: Alhambra Renaissance Plaza, Garfield & Main

2. Public Art Expresses a Community's Identity
and Values...

Through public art, a community can honor important
aspects of its history and culture.

The classic Alhambra Clock on Main Street has been a
focal point of the Downtown for decades.

Historic restaurant icons - both are still in operation today.


The curvaceous seating elements at the Renaissance Plaza provide a place to relax before a movie or just to chat with friends. The history of Alhambra is informally told in tiles set into the various structures.

Statue of James de Barth Shorb, Historical Mural &
Fountain at the Shorb Garden, 68 S. First St.

3. Public Art Validates Pride in Corporate Citizenship...

Local businesses and corporations show their commitment
to their communities through public art.

Fountains & Grounds of The Alhambra Office Complex
900 S. Fremont Ave.

4. Public Art Enriches Cultural & Educational Aspects...

Education is enhanced through cultural exchanges, such as through using art to spark thought and emotion.

Alhambra City Hall Lobby Art Exhibition
111 S. First St.

5. Public Art Enhances Pedestrian Corridors, Roadsides,
and Community Gateways...


A routine experience becomes a moment of discovery.

Statue of Warner Jenkins at the Pedestrian Entrance
to City Hall, 111 S. First St.

6. Public Art Helps Green Spaces to

A new dimension is added to outdoor beauty, reminding us not to take it for granted.

Gateway Plaza Monument at Valley/Fremont

Famous Artists Associated with Alhambra...

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) - In 1930, Rockwell traveled to California to visit his old friend and studio mate, Clyde Forsythe. Forsythe had urged Rockwell to get out of New York for a while
as Rockwell had been miserable as a bachelor and man-
about-town. While in California, he met Mary Barstow, who
he married on April 17, 1930 in Alhambra. The August 23, 1930 cover of The Saturday Evening Post features his new wife on
its cover. During his forty-seven year affiliation with the
publication Rockwell produced 323 SATURDAY EVENING
POST covers. Rockwell is known to have spent his summers
painting in Alhambra.

Norman Rockwell painted "The Barefoot Boy" for the Coca Cola Company while residing in Alhambra.

Victor Clyde Forsythe (1885-1962) – Forsythe, who was known for both his illustrations and comic drawings, began easel painting in earnest around 1920. By 1922 he was living in Alhambra, first on S. Wilson Ave. (now Atlantic Blvd.), then, two years later, on N. Almansor St. The Almansor St. property was close to what became “Artists’ Alley.” About 1935 he moved some two miles northeast, into adjacent San Marino, living first on St. Alban’s Rd., then on Ramiro Rd. During the summertime, he kept a studio at Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains. He gave up commercial art entirely in 1938, but continued at the easel. The dry spaces of the Southwest were his great subject, and when he died in 1962, he came to be regarded as one of the notable “Desert Painters.”

Sam Hyde Harris (1889-1977) - At the age of 55, Harris divorced his wife of 27 years, Phoebe Mulholland, the niece of William Mulholland. He married Marion Dodge, a UCLA librarian whom he met in an evening art class, and moved his home and commercial art business to the Artists’ Alley in Alhambra. In 1976 Harris had a one-man show at the San Gabriel Fine Arts Association and a one-man show in Alhambra in 1977 that opened just four days before his death. In his lifetime, Harris produced somewhere between 2,500-3,000 oil paintings.

Eli Harvey (1860-1957) - Internationally-known artist and sculptor lived and worked in NYC until he moved to Alhambra in the late 1920s. He he built a home and studio in an area populated by a large artists' colony called "Artists Alley." He was also a good friend of Norman Rockwell.

Frank Tenney Johnson (1874-1939) - Johnson became one of the most famous early 20th-century painters of the Western genre. During the 1920s, Johnson settled in Alhambra, sharing a studio with Clyde Forsythe. From 1931-1938, he built a cabin and studio on the north fork of the Shoshone River in Wyoming, just outside the east gate of Yellowstone Park. During the summer months he would spend much of his time hiking in the park and painting scenes of its unique landscapes.

Jack Wilkinson Smith (1873-1949) - Smith studied art at the Chicago Art Institute and Cincinnati Academy of Art, and began painting Western scenes before he actually ever came out West. In 1906, he visited California, which he called "nature's own paradise of scenic splendor and variety." The coastal areas and the sea in its many moods, was a favorite subject for Smith. His paintings of surf crashing among the rocks are unparalleled. In 1926, he and his wife settled in Alhambra, buying the property immediately south of Frank Tenney Johnson’s new home. It was there, on “Artists’ Alley,” that they dwelt until Smith’s death in early 1949, at which time he was widely praised as one of California’s leading landscape painters.

How can I find out more about Public Art in Alhambra?

The Alhambra Arts and Cultural Events Committee considers all forms of art from the perspective of context, location, use of space, interaction, durability of materials, intended function, local history, and anticipated audience. If you are interested in finding out more about planning for public art and opportunities for artists who are interested in working in public art projects, call the Committee's staff representative at 626-570-5010.

If you are interested in viewing early historical photographs and other relics from Alhambra's past, visit the Alhambra Historical Society Museum 1550 W. Alhambra Rd., 626-300-8845. They are open every Thursday (as well as second and fourth Sunday of the month), from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

If you are interested in sponsoring an exhibit in the City Hall Art Gallery, call 626-570-5010.


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