Last year, Toll Brothers Builders reached out to me to design some public art for a new neighborhood they are creating, called Parkside at Tarob Court, in Milpitas. They are building a new home community, that also offers a little park for recreational purposes here. They decided to commission me to paint the utility boxes to add more color and beauty to the neighborhood.
Usually, I visit the neighborhood to get a feeling of the people living there and collaborate together with local residents what they want to see on the wall. This wasn’t possible in this case. When I arrived at the location, there only was a construction site with some abandoned buildings in a secluded industrial area. I started thinking about what the role of the park could be, because it is an essential component of the new housing complex and the vital organ as the main public place. How can a park enrich the community? I envisioned it as a public space where people meet each other and do activities. A safe place where they spend time to relax and socialize. I was focusing on physical activities such as a mother playing with her child, people skating, biking and walking their dogs. But that doesn’t even scratch the surface. A park can have much more impact. It can be a place where people enjoy and connect with nature – watch birds and butterflies when they visit the flowers.
The comic style gave me new possibilities of visual communication. It is often found in games, movies, and advertising to keep individual features of the people as simple as possible that the diverse community can identify better with them. I wanted the park to be accessible to all age groups and different types of people. I chose a bold color palette and simplistic illustrations to create a contrast to its surroundings. I hope my boxes nurtures the creative life in this community and opens the place for new interpretations. I always have the people in mind and the public good. It’s not so much about my personal artwork, when I am working in public spaces. I appreciate all the feedback I get for my designs and my work evolves with each revision. When I presented my designs at the Milpitas Arts Commission, Toll Brothers and I had already gone through a couple of improvements.
While working on site, I learned more about how the landscape architects design amenities like park benches and other elements for the community. The construction manager cared a lot about the surrounding wild roses at my mural site and I can’t wait to see when the landscaping is completed. It will be a beautiful and safe place to live, relax and enjoy nature. I hope my artwork will contribute to the vitality of the neighborhood and that the residents will make it their own place.