Art is meant to be enjoyed and shared, but sometimes it’s easier said than done.
A new 3D mural by local artists Heather Laganelli and Deidre Hathor will provide a unique artistic experience for the visually impaired.
The room, set in a hallway behind the dining room of Laganelli’s restaurant, Locale Farm to Table, features nearly 800 spoons of various designs and sizes. In a range of colors that would shame a rainbow – pistachio, Christmas red, khaki, evergreen, marshmallow – each one was designed, painted or hand dipped by Laganelli, Hathor or the Apprentices of Hathor Jessica Bilman and Val Mclemore.
“We really used the color wheel,” Bilman said.
Lisa Hicks, a local artist specializing in miniature drawings, will also have secret additions to some of the spoons in the room.
Braille labels, with color names and additional messages, are added by a team from the Valley Center for the Blind, whose office in the old California building in Bakersfield is a short walk from the restaurant on 18th Street.
Shellena Heber, the centre’s executive director, said it was exciting “to see people from the community approaching us and wanting to create something that has access for people who are blind or visually impaired”.
“It has been so rewarding to all work together, to create something that is truly inclusive for our community.”
This isn’t the restaurant’s first piece of art, which has its own wall aisle, a back wall covered in public art that is replaced with new pieces every four to six months.
It was when Hathor, along with her boyfriend Brandon Thompson and students from their art class looking for acquaintances, were working on the last alleyway murals that the conversation took place down the hall. After discussing a number of ideas, Laganelli and Hathor both agreed that they wanted to try something ambitious.
“I’m a big envelope pusher and so is she,” Hathor said.
The use of recycled materials also intrigued the pair. Although some spoons were purchased, most were donated through a community appeal for donations. Mike Connery, a customer who has been coming to the restaurant since it was Union Station Deli before Laganelli took over, donated silver spoons his father had collected.
Conductor Jason Wiedmann, who in addition to working at Locale also studied art, also contributed to the project.
“I thought it was a good cause. Art is close to my heart,” he said of his donation of three teaspoons plucked directly from his knife bag.
“Plating spoons are always ornate,” he said. “I’m a spoon nerd, I’ve been collecting them since I became a chef.”
The mural was a work in progress and went through a quality control test when Locale hosted an event for The Playful Space and the young guests took a hands-on approach.
Hathor and Laganelli said they took a lot of trial and error to keep the spoons in place.
“We tried six different glues, three types of Gorilla glue,” Hathor said. “Do you know what worked? Nail glue. “
So just like that acrylic set that your friend cradles, these mounted spoons need to withstand wear and tear, which is the goal of the piece. People will be able to feel the textures and shapes, and those who can read Braille will have additional experience.
Thursday’s unveiling will also include additional ways for visitors to interact with the room using other senses, the couple said.
Beyond this project, artists have other ideas for more public art and collaborations with other local nonprofits to help raise awareness in the community.
“I have big dreams,” Laganelli said.
“And my dreams are attached to your dreams,” Hathor added.
Heber said she was thrilled that this mural could help spread awareness of the resources the center can provide to people with vision problems.
“In general, we should all be aware of the type of services that are out there, so when it comes to the people we love who need them, we know what is available.
“We can solve a lot of problems, but we can’t if no one knows we exist.”
Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter: @realstefanidias.