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Bike racks add art to downtown Modesto

This new bike rack is one of two new public art bike racks installed downtown through a partnership between the Modesto Art Museum and the city.
This new bike rack is one of two new public art bike racks installed downtown through a partnership between the Modesto Art Museum and the city. aalfaro@modbee.com

Downtown has two new pieces of public art that also have a practical purpose. They double as bike racks.

The racks were installed last week – one at 15th and J streets and the other on 11th Street between J and K streets. In an homage to Modesto’s winemaking history, one rack looks like a giant corkscrew, while the other is more abstract.

The Modesto Art Museum worked with the city on the project. There are plans for a third bike rack on 10th Street. Museum Executive Director Robert Barzan said the museum is paying about $16,000 for the three racks.

He said the money came from a $101,000 grant the museum received last year from ArtPlace America. Barzan said creating a public art project with the city was among the grant’s requirements.

Another requirement was branding a downtown design district. Barzan said that district consists of 12 square blocks bounded by 10th and 15th streets and I and K streets. He said within that boundary are 75 businesses – such as engineering firms, architects, fashion-related and salons – that are design-based.

Downtown Modesto has several murals, as well as sculptures by Oakdale artist Betty Saletta, including the paper boy in McClatchy Park, Chief Estanislao near the county courthouse and a piece at Five Points inspired by “American Graffiti.” Barzan said the museum was looking for public art that would be creative but also appeal to the more practical-minded.

“It’s important to have public art,” he said. “It’s the same reason why we have trees and benches to sit on downtown. It makes it an attractive and inviting place to be.”

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