Music and vibrant color commemorated the unveiling of a new sculpture dedicated to the community of City Heights during a celebration of the artwork Aug. 21.
District 9 Councilwoman Marti Emerald, Stephen Russell of the City Heights Community Development Corp., Steve Eldred of The California Endowment, and Zara Marselian of La Maestra Community Health Centers joined City Heights artist Jim Bliesner to officially present his sculpture to an audience of residents and artists.
“Cultural Fusion,” the 10-foot-tall, metal sculpture in front of La Maestra Community Health Centers on Fairmount Avenue, is painted with vivid colors and incorporates a variety of iconic symbols used among the various cultures who call City Heights home.
Russell and Bliesner shared how the sculpture was commissioned by the City Heights Community Development Corp. as part of an overall economic development strategy to create walkable environments and boost local business. An analysis prepared by Bliesner and Woodbury University Professor Jose Parral examined how public art can establish identity and promote economic opportunity. The long-term strategy involves bringing together other arts groups on Fairmount Avenue, including the AjA Project, which utilizes photography as an exploratory personal development process, and the Fern Street Circus, which provides circus training in the local community.
“Cultural Fusion” is the Community Development Corp.’s second artistic endeavor on Fairmount Avenue. In May, they worked with local artist Vicki Leon to engage nearly 300 residents in a mural painting event near the intersection of Fairmount Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard.
Bliesner compared his artistic process to jazz, using influences from multiple cultures and styles to create a unique statement.
“This process is sort of what living in City Heights and actually the U.S. is about – the observation and respect toward other cultures and the gradual Americanization of the forms to create new forms and styles,” Bliesner said.
Marselian said the organization was to grateful to accept the placement of the sculpture at the entry to its flagship health center.
“Art and economic opportunity are key elements of an integrated approach to improving the health and well-being of City Heights residents,” Marselian said.