Taking a cue from the late pop artist Andy Warhol, a group of educators, architects, engineers and contractors gathered Saturday at Coddingtown Mall to turn cans of food into works of art.
The Redwood Empire Food Bank charity event, held for its fourth year, featured four teams fashioning sculptures around the timely theme of “Sonoma ReCANstruction” linked to the October wildfires and the rebuilding efforts.
“We did a Lego Man, and one side is a fireman and one side is a contractor,” said Kyle Welsh, a project manager with Midstate Construction of Petaluma. “It’s a first-to-last look, from the fire to the rebuild.”
The Lego Man team, which won the judging panel’s awards for Structural Ingenuity and Best Use of Labels, also included talent from MKA Engineers of Rohnert Park, which is doing a lot of work in rebuilding the Coffey Park area.
Most of the canned food for the sculptures was donated. After the exhibit closes March 2, the cans will go to Redwood Empire Food Bank to help feed neighbors in need.
“It’s a creative way to give to a good cause,” said Molly Hill, a first-grade teacher at Sonoma Country Day School who worked with her colleagues on a sculpture of the Texas Longhorn cow Angel, a familiar fixture along Highway 101 in Santa Rosa.
Angel’s owner, Valerie Evans, died during the wildfires. Afterward, drivers who were worried about Angel’s fate were relieved to see a sign posted in her pasture: “Still Standing.”
“I passed Angel every day on my way to work,” said Hill, who constructed the cow using cans of soup donated by Amy’s Kitchen of Petaluma. “We liked the idea of ‘Still Standing.’ ”
The Angel sculpture, which won the awards for Best Original Design and People’s Choice, featured nostrils made of paper cups, horns of tissue paper, a cowbell for her neck and a swishing tail of rope, powered by a battery-operated Servo motor.
“Angel the cow has a good story,” said Santa Rosa Fire Chief Tony Gossner, who served as one of three Local Heroes on the judging panel. ”I like the simplicity ... and the wagging tail is whimsical.”
The third and fourth teams — hailing from ZFA Structural Engineers, Wright Contracting, TLCD Architecture and Quattrocchi Kwok Architects, all of Santa Rosa — worked on two, connected sculptures featuring two beloved cartoon characters.
The first sculpture, After the Firestorm, depicted a burned home — with just the chimney remaining — and Snoopy as a fireman wielding an ax. The second sculpture showed Charlie Brown as a contractor, standing with a shovel in front of a rebuilt home. The home’s roof was made of canned pears, the chimney of beans, the brick walls of tomatoes and the landscaping of tuna and olives.
Not surprisingly, those two sculptures together won the awards for Most Cans Used and Best Meal.
“We built it with BIM, a 3-D drafting program,” said Will Korger of ZFA structural engineers, which is working on custom projects in the Fountaingrove area. “We modeled it all and got the shop drawings for the plywood, which keeps everything level and helps us to build out.”
Heading up the Local Heroes judging panel was 12-year-old Memphis Roetter of Santa Rosa, a rock star food drive champion who has been donating to Redwood Empire Food Bank since he was 2.