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Public Art Web Map

Posted by BG Staff // March 22nd, 2018

Have you been looking for that giant yellow head on Main Street? Or a bulldog, waiting at a busy crosswalk with his stylish owner—who also happens to have a bull’s head? Now you can discover and learn about the city’s incredible downtown public art collection via an interactive web map.

public art web map_screenshot 

The map features both public artworks and artist-designed utility boxes. Clicking on the artwork brings up its precise location, photo, and additional information on the piece, including an artist bio and quotes.

To learn even more about the artwork in the city’s collection, try a docent-led tour. Guided public art walking tours start again this April and take place on the third Saturday of the month at 11am. You don’t need to book in advance - just show up in comfortable walking shoes in front of the Lesher Center. (And bring a friend!)

Water Light by Jason Middlebrook

Public Art Update

New work and public art projects are coming to Walnut Creek this spring. Jason Middlebrook’s newly completed Water Light is a calming oasis set in the public courtyard of the Lyric building on Locust Street. With water jets tracing complex lines and abstract mosaic tile mirroring the sky and street, it’s a lovely respite from urban life. Middlebrook is a mixed-media contemporary artist who works in sculpture, installation, painting, and drawing, and is based in New York.

Shayne Dark_Intersect in Red-proposed rendering

Artist rendering

Coming in April, Shayne Dark’s Intersect in Red will be a beacon at The Landing apartments, currently going up across from the Walnut Creek BART station. The 50-feet-high steel sculpture, reminiscent of tree branches and Dark’s past work with ironwood, will be brightly visible to thousands of motorists and train riders every day and light up at night. The Canadian artist has completed similar public art projects in Toronto and Buffalo, and exhibits widely around the world.

Dougherty_Patrick - River Vessels 

River Vessels installation at Waco Arts Festival, 2010. Photo by Philip Ravenscroft.

This May, world-renowned sculptor Patrick Dougherty will build a monumental woven willow sapling installation in Civic Park, thanks to a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant awarded to Bedford Gallery and the City of Walnut Creek. The public is invited to apply to be a volunteer artist assistant and help Dougherty build this unique artwork, which will be on view in Walnut Creek for two years. Dougherty has received numerous awards and built over 250 large-scale, environmental works across the United States and around the world, including Japan, Korea, Italy, Germany, and the UK.

More information on volunteering for this project here.



Artist Spotlight: Lisa Congdon

Posted by BG Staff // March 8th, 2018

Lisa Congdon_Photo by Kimberley Hasselbrink

Photo by Kimberley Hasselbrink

Portland-based fine artist and illustrator Lisa Congdon’s colorful and intricate paintings and drawings, bold pattern designs, and inspirational hand lettering celebrate life with a warmth and playfulness that’s infectious. She illustrates for numerous clients around the world including the Museum of Modern Art, Martha Stewart Living, and Chronicle Books. She has exhibited her work around the country, including shows at the Contemporary Jewish Museum and the Bedford Gallery. Her passion and fearlessness make her an excellent juror for our upcoming summer show The World of Frida, celebrating the visionary artist Frida Kahlo.

Lisa Congdon_Bedford exhibitions 

Some of Lisa's work in our shows New Neon (2013) and The Jealous Curator (2014)

With a prodigious career like hers, you might be surprised to learn Lisa didn’t begin her professional art career until she was 40. Previously, she worked as a grade school teacher and then at an education non-profit, but found herself missing the creativity of working with kids. She started painting and drawing for fun, sharing her work online through sites like Flickr (well before Instagram!), started a blog, and opened an Etsy shop. Her vivid paintings and drawings instantly caught the attention of clients and curators, and she quit her job to be a full-time artist in 2007.

Lisa Congdon_artwork collage

Her experience and insight self-starting an art career has proven to be dynamite inspiration for emerging visual artists. She's the author of several informative and motivating books for artists, including Art Inc, Whatever You Are Be a Good One, Fortune Favors the Brave, and most recently Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives – with another book already slated to be published by Chronicle Books in 2019.

Lisa Congdon_Fullerton show collage

Lisa recently received a 2018 Fullerton Artist in Residence Endowment and currently has a solo show at Fullerton College Art Gallery up through April 9. Don’t miss it if you’re in southern CA!

Discover more of Lisa’s work on her website and get updates and sneak peeks on Instagram @lisacongdon.

All artwork images copyright Lisa Congdon.



WATCH: Inside Seed Vortex

Posted by BG Staff // February 8th, 2018

Easily the Bedford's most involved hard-hat installation to date, Ned Kahn's Seed Vortex is an enormous spinning disc spanning over 20 feet in diameter and weighing thousands of pounds. Visitors have been curious about how we got it in the door, and what it symbolizes. Check out the feature below from Walnut Creek TV to learn more about Ned, how we built Seed Vortex, and why it's a metaphor for human interactions like political and social change. Together with the other works in the show, Seed Vortex exemplifies Ned's lifelong fascination with art and science. 

Ned Kahn: Seed Vortex is on view at the Bedford through March 25. And don't miss our Arts + Craft Beer event, featuring art activities inspired by the works in the show, mustard making with local chefs, and complimentary refreshments, including craft beer tasting with Calicraft Brewing. It'll be an afternoon of fun perfect for the whole family to see and make something cool!

Arts + Craft Beer
Saturday, February 24
Admission: $7 Adults, $3 Youth, Free for kids 12 and younger.
Advance tickets available at Eventbrite or at the door.



In the Studio: Ned Kahn

Posted by BG Staff // January 18th, 2018

Ned Kahn studio visit 

Bay Area artist Ned Kahn has been creating kinetic artwork for over 30 years, renowned for merging art, science, and technology in complex and monumental work that mesmerizes and dazzles viewers around the world. Last spring, we visited his warehouse-like studio in Sebastopol for a peek into his process and to prepare for our own massive installation of his work now on view at the Bedford, Seed Vortex.


Ned Kahn studio visit 3

Driving up to Ned’s studio is like entering a living lab. Outside in the courtyard, several samples for larger pieces were set up to catch the natural elements that are like collaborators in his artwork: wind, light, fog, sand, and water. He and a team of studio assistants study the way the materials respond, and they do extensive research and development testing to ensure the material will function as intended in the final artwork. 


Ned Kahn studio visit 4

“I’ve always been attracted to the idea of making visible things that are invisible… I’m intrigued with the way patterns can emerge when things flow. These patterns are not static objects, they are patterns of behavior—recurring themes in nature.”  –Ned Kahn


Ned Kahn studio visit - Ned and Todd

Inside the studio workshop, the testing and experimentation continues. In the photo above left, Ned demonstrates how to operate the small Seed Vortex, here filled with larger, blonde mustard seeds. After many months and countless seeds scattered on the floor, Ned decided a smaller seed was necessary. The artwork demonstrates granular motion, where rotating mustard seeds influence neighboring seeds, creating pattern changes that in turn influence and restructure the entire system, much like political or social change, says Ned. Pictured right, studio assistant Todd Barricklow stands next to the massive steel beams that support the large Seed Vortex’s spinning disk, showing the effects of granular motion on a grand scale.


 Ned Kahn studio visit 1

Originally from Stanford, CT, Ned earned his undergraduate degree in environmental science before moving to San Francisco in the 1980s. There he discovered and was enamored with the work on display at the Exploratorium, doggedly seeking and securing an apprenticeship at the museum to build exhibits, under the guidance of its founder, physicist Frank Oppenheimer. Conversations with Oppenheimer and his own lifelong fascination with science led Ned to develop kinetic, interactive sculpture for the museum that explored the mystery and wonder of natural phenomena, including versions of two pieces in the Bedford show, Chaotic Pendulum and Cloud Rings.


Ned Kahn studio visit 5

Since then, he’s completed numerous public and museum commissions around the greater Bay Area and beyond, including projects in the UK, Singapore, Australia, Japan, United Arab Emirates, and throughout the US. He was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2003. Above left, the prototype Ned made for Sebastopol’s first city-commissioned public artwork “Spire,” a 60-ft tower of steel that mimics the reflection of sunlight on water as the outside disks move in the wind. Pictured right, a sample of plastic chainmail mesh developed by New Zealand artist and designer Kayne Horsham for use in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Ned had previously used aluminum chainmail in projects, but found the material too costly. Collaborating with Horsham, he used this lighter material (dubbed "Kaynemaile") in Enagua, a massive tower project in Los Angeles completed in 2015. The tower's Kaynemaile mesh facade moves with a lively grace in the fierce Santa Ana winds coming off the ocean, resembling a billowing fabric.


Ned Kahn studio visit 2

Discover more of Ned’s work, including great videos of the pieces in action, at

Ned Kahn: Seed Vortex is on view at the Bedford through March 25.


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