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Public artwork influences La Verne

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With 19 pieces of public art scattered around the small city of La Verne, it’s wonderful to see how much of an influence artwork has on this community.

Whether it’s the mural of the old orange groves on Third Street or the beautifully multi-colored sculpture of the San Gabriel Mountains on Foothill Boulevard, La Verne is a community that uses art to express its history and inspire its community members to think outside the box.

Art is a breath of fresh air for any community, and for people here in La Verne, art is way for them to learn about their past as well as their present.

“I think it gives the history and identity of what a community stands for,” said Brian McNerney, president of La Verne chamber of commerce.

Artwork has influenced many major cities throughout the United States like New York and Boston, however in a small city it can have an equal, if not more influential, effect on the community.

Even though La Verne is a community of only 32,000 people, compared to cities like New York of 8 million, these 19 pieces of public artwork display La Verne’s commitment to pride and beauty.

“Artwork expresses peoples feelings and thoughts,” said Tiffanie Sigal, a junior speech communications major at La Verne. “It brings out different emotions by each person that views it.”

Here in this community, people look at art as escapism; it influences everyone differently.

La Verne fire station has one piece of art that has definitely made an effect on those who glance upon it.

“It’s a big mural of an old fashioned fire truck,” said Seth Shelton, a junior criminology major at La Verne. “It gives a sense of history around here….and it is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.”

Many people in La Verne, when questioned, were surprised of the great number of pieces of public artwork here. However, once they were reminded of the where these pieces of art were located, everyone gave a knowing glance – they realized that this artwork has become part of the community. It’s not something that they gawk at, it is something that has taken the shape of this community and has given it strength. It doesn’t stand out because it is La Verne. It is this city.

“Every city is captured in its history and art is basically the history of civilization,” said McNerney. “It’s important that…you remember how it was, how it looked – and art basically tells the story.”

La Verne is a city of pride and a city of community, and artwork is a way of expressing these qualities.

Art can bring a community closer and also move it forward.

It promotes thinking and feeling, and so, as a community, La Verne is a city on the run, and it’s a city that is moving gracefully and artfully into the twenty-first century.

“(Art) makes me feel,” said Verdena Dunkley, a La Verne community member. “It kind of humbles you and makes you want to be a good person.”

Katherine Hillier can be reached at khillier@ulv.edu.

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