Recently I had the pleasure to work with the Pleasanton Arts Commission. The City was looking for uplifting artworks to beautify and promote the downtown area. They chose the perfect location for my design, since I found my inspiration in nature. The three utility boxes that I painted are located at the Del Valle Plaza - next to the Arroyo del Valle, which is an incredible sanctuary for many butterflies. In my design I am featuring the native Callippe Butterfly, an endangered species that occurs only in two spots in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as the very adaptable Anise Swallowtail Butterfly, which is a survivor species. It is remarkably flexible to different ecotypes and can also be found in my home country Germany. The butterflies are attracted by California Poppies. In 1903, poppies became the state flower and are a modern reminder of California’s history.
Pleasanton is a very charming and friendly small-town. I love to live in San Francisco. It’s exciting and cultural vibrant, but sometimes it’s nice to have a slower pace of life. While painting, lots of people stopped and chatted with me on the sidewalk or waved from the car. Around noon I usually took a break to walk through downtown and I spent some time at Tully’s Café where the same people gathered every day. I quickly became friends with some interesting locals. Everyday 95-year old Mary Ann shares an iced coke with her 92-year old boyfriend at this coffee shop. Born and grown up in the time of the Great Depression, she witnessed the Second World War and her family moved in the same circles as Albert Einstein. Ron is another inspiring person who I met at the coffee shop. He is happy, living a relaxed life and doing what he enjoys most. He wrote a book of quotes that he had collected throughout his life. One of his favorites is: “Joy is a verb!” I like this saying because it indicates that joy is something you do, not something you get. Joy is something you choose that then reflects on others who spread it further into whole different parts of the community. It becomes a butterfly effect!