Hat in Three Stages of Landing
Sherwood Park, Salinas, California
Aluminum and steel painted with polyurethane enamel
Three hats, each 9 ft. 5 in. x 18 ft. x 15 ft. 5 in. (2.9 x 5.5 x 4.7 m)
Each hat is supported on two poles at different heights:
19 ft. 3 in., 12 ft. 10 in., 6 ft. 1 in. (5.9, 3.9, 1.9 m)
Equidistant from one another, over a total of 162 ft. (49.38 m)
Commissioned May 1978 by the city of Salinas, California, with a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and donations from local sources
Installed March 22-23, 1982
Inaugurated March 26, 1982
One purpose of the National Endowment of the Arts’ matching grants in the '70s was to encourage the placement of sculptures by contemporary artists in smaller communities that could otherwise not afford them. Funds raised by donors in these communities were matched by the NEA, who also recommended artists through a committee of qualified advisors.
We were selected in 1978 to create a sculpture for Salinas, California, population 110,000, which lies in farmland among rolling hills a two hour drive south of San Francisco. Salinas is the birthplace of the novelist John Steinbeck and the area around it is the setting for several of his novels. The town is also known for its vegetable production and calls itself the "Salad Bowl of the World."
The site chosen by the Salinas Outdoor Sculpture Advisory Committee was a park area in front of a new auditorium and community center at the edge of town, a setting with tall eucalyptus trees edged with stables, adjoining the stands of the California Rodeo, which brings thousands of visitors to the site every July, when the park of the community center fills with picnickers and live musical entertainment.
In the climate of Salinas where so many work out of doors hats are essential. Visiting a local hat store we saw a wide range of headgear, from farmers’ to ranchers’ to ladies’ garden hats. Coosje had already started a direction of thinking by noting down on her arrival: "Something blowing in the wind… or something thrown... or something floating." The subject of a hat fit well into this approach. It could be seen as if thrown from the Rodeo stands, descending in stages like a balloon or small plane landing on the grounds of the park.
We reduced our experience of hats in the store to a single abstract form perforated by holes to suggest a colander and let the sky through it to pattern the shadow below. Three identical sculptures of our Hat were formed of aluminum and set at three elevations 80 feet apart on top of double stanchions such as those often seen in the Western landscape, the lowest nearly touching the ground.
The appearance of our Hat was controversial because we turned the curve of the brim over, facing it down to suggest a saddle and also placed the crease in the Hat crosswise to its path, liberties we defended in writing to the committee with success. At the dedication of the Hat in Three Stages of Landing March 1982, we were presented with a Stetson hat and inscribed lettuce bowl.
Over the years that followed, financial problems affecting Salinas grew more and more drastic. Libraries had to close and social and public services were reduced or eliminated. There were no funds for maintenance of the Hat in Three Stages of Landing which gradually took on a deteriorated appearance. Recently, a group of citizens "determined to unite the community through the arts" have reopened libraries and begun a program to conserve the sculpture "as a symbol of our efforts to establish Salinas as a creative center for the region." A five year plan has been started to raise funds for the complete restoration of the Hat in Three Stages of Landing, to be followed by a rededication of the work.
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