One of downtown Santa Rosa's most iconic pieces of public art — a 13-foot-tall, mosaic-covered concrete and steel statue of a rainbow trout, titled "Guardian of the Creek" — soon will get guardians of its own.
Starting in July, the Artstart nonprofit, which contracts with Santa Rosa for the creation and installation of statues, murals and decorated benches, will hire three apprentice artists to repair "Guardian" and other downtown artwork damaged by vandals.
The $55,000 "fish statue," as downtown regulars have dubbed it, repeatedly has had chunks broken off it by skateboarders crashing up on the concrete "waves" surrounding its base, said artist and Artstart founder Mario Uribe.
Santa Rosa Creek Fish Statue Vandalism
"We've repaired it several times," Uribe said. "It kept getting damaged."
Last year, the city spent $2,900 repairing the statue, said Kathy Farrell, executive director of Artstart.
The restoration of the piece will begin with the city's installation of a barrier around the base of the statue, which depicts the fish leaping up into the air.
The statue, commissioned by the city and created by Uribe in collaboration with the late sculptor Daniel Oberti and Artstart student apprentices, was installed at the entrance of the Prince Memorial Greenway in 2008. It immediately became a magnet for visitors, especially young children.
The city of Santa Rosa has allocated $2,500 for a three-person restoration crew as part of the 15-year-old Artstart program's annual summer session, in which young artists are paid stipends to help create and install new work.
Farrell said she hopes to get corporate and private funding to make the repair and maintenance of the art a year-round program.
"We do have quite a bit of public art throughout the downtown area and on the Prince Memorial Greenway," Farrell said.