From the Vault: Commissioning Artwork for the Hotel Lobby

As most of the people reading the Turtle Bay blogs are already aware, we are currently building the Sheraton Redding at Sundial Bridge. During this process we have received a lot of calls from artists and artisans who wanted us to use their artwork or products in the hotel. This was not, however, Turtle Bay’s deci­­sion to make. A team of interior designers working within the Sheraton brand framework made all of those selections.

Turtle Bay was given the opportunity to guide the process of commissioning a signature piece of art for the hotel lobby–a task we were very happy to take on. I am very pleased to announce that an artist has been selected and is already hard at work on the project.

Sheraton Redding at the Sundial Bridge
The Sheraton Redding at Sundial Bridge front entrance. Imagine walking though the lobby doors and looking to the left.

People have asked me how we arrived at our choice. Like all public art commissions, it was a process. The first thing we did was put together a committee of Turtle Bay staff and community partners with expertise in public art and interior design. Our Creative Services Officer, Miki’ala Catalfano, Marketing and Public Relations Manager, Cristy Kidd, and I (your fearless Curatrix) were joined by Debra Lucero, Director of the Shasta and Butte County Art Councils, John Harper, artist and Shasta College art instructor, and Eve Berg Pugh, artist and interior designer.

We knew we wanted a unique piece that represented our location and the Turtle Bay mission and vision, as well as design ethos of Starwood, Sheraton’s parent company. We also wanted the piece to be visually pleasing and accessible to hotel guests of every background and not to clash with its surroundings (as there is plenty of room for challenging and provocative art in the museum’s art gallery). But we also did not want something that was simply part of the décor. It had to be inspiring.

Lobby floor plan. The artwork will hang on the wall on the left side where the grouping of four chairs is shown.

The committee reviewed the lobby floor plans and 3D renderings in order to familiarize ourselves with the space. Then we took a close look at the interior design choices, including the artwork that had already been chosen for the rest of the lobby and the other public spaces. This gave us a framework for our vision.

We began looking at images of large-scale pieces in the types of media we thought would work for the space. Pintrest was a useful tool for sharing ideas with the committee and other interested parties.

We knew we wanted the artist to have a Northern California connection. After we agreed on the type of feeling we were trying to achieve, John and Debra began showing us works from specific artists and we started to narrow down the field. They made a lot of calls and sent a lot of emails soliciting interest from the artists we thought would fit the project.

3D Rendering
Looking in through the lobby doors into the 3D walk-though of the hotel. The wall is on the left. It is about 12’ x 14’.

Once we had a pool of artists who thought they might like to work on the project, we took a closer look at their work and their availability, as well as their fees. Unfortunately, the budget for the piece is not unlimited. We selected four artists, two working alone and one wife and husband team, to submit proposals for the commission.

The artists, who all have strong Northern California connections, were Frank LaPena, Lucinda and Dan Kasser, and Bob Nugent. We hosted a group meeting where we discussed the project in depth, toured the site of the then un-built lobby, and had a spirited lunch at the Thai Cafe. After this face-to-face meeting we knew we had an amazing and diverse group from which to make our selection, and that the final choice would not be an easy one. The artists joked that they were going to get together and make a single proposal.

Armed with the hotel plans and style guides from Starwood, the artists went back to their studios to come up with their proposals. In May, we regrouped and the artists submitted their proposals to the committee and a representative from Azul, the company that will be managing the hotel for Turtle Bay. Azul works directly with Starwood, which had the ultimate decision-making power based upon the committee’s recommendations.

After this intense process, Starwood chose Bob Nugent to create the signature piece for the hotel lobby. Bob has an extensive background in public art, including hotels, and we are very excited to see what he comes up with.

Bob Nugent's art
An 11” x 11” sample representing the type of piece Bob Nugent is proposing for the lobby. The finished product will almost certainly not look exactly like this, but it evokes the mood.

They might not have received this commission, but we are already making plans to work with Frank LaPena, who had a solo show in out Art Gallery in 2003, and the Kassers on future projects in and around the museum.

Julia Pennington Cronin

Curator of Collections & Exhibits

Follow me on Twitter @CuratrixJulia

Green World All Around Us: New art in the Gardens — the Odyssey of Earthstone

EarthstoneAnnually, as temperatures rise, gardeners lose the ubiquitous gardening spring fever that hits us all in earlier, cooler days of the year. Here at Turtle Bay’s McConnell Botanical Gardens there are other dimensions to thrill the senses besides plants, peace and shade: such as art in the Gardens.

The newest art to grace Turtle Bay’s McConnell Botanical Gardens is the monolithic piece named Earthstone. Earthstone was created by local artist Colleen Barry* and commissioned by patron Lawrence Dillon in honor of his partner Donald Ostreicher, a life-long supporter of the arts. In a whimsical way Earthstone is vaguely reminiscent of Stonehenge and predominately composed of calming earth tones. It is also a lively and completely unexpected piece. The site surrounding Earthstone is planted with California native trees and plants and is on the north edge of the Gardens (see below).

Earthstone map

Earthstone has had a four year odyssey from beginning to the grand opening on June 13th of this year. At the helm of the project was patron Lawrence Dillon, a very creative, ingenious person in his own right. At every step of the way Lawrence’s contagious enthusiasm fueled the project. From first steps, to the perfect placement, to the garden that surrounds Earthstone, to even boulder and signage placement; no detail was unimportant in Lawrence’s eyes.

Earthstone delivery
Delivery of Earthstone with artist Colleen Barry and patron Lawrence Dillon – May, 2014

The Horticulture staff loved working with Lawrence on Earthstone’s garden. In Lawrence we found a compatriot; he understood how important all of the minor details are to the whole garden. Planting (a bit of which will be finished in fall 2015), mulching, irrigation, etc., all crucial elements and all fascinating to not only Horticulture staff and visiting gardeners; but also to Lawrence, a patron of the arts.

Earthstone has had a true odyssey: from first steps, to its regal, but unceremonious journey through the Botanical Gardens, to its garden planning and planting, to its recent grand opening. It was a labor of love by Colleen Barry and Lawrence Dillon and is beloved by everyone here at Turtle Bay.

*Colleen Barry is a world-renown artist who lives and works in Redding. She has created other permanent pieces for Turtle Bay, including: Mosaic Oasis in the Children’s Garden, Frog Island and Slow Turtle Crossing outside the Museum.

Enjoy these two videos from the day Earthstone arrived at Turtle Bay!


Happy gardening and garden enjoyment everyone; from the Horticulture staff here at Turtle Bay!


Email Turtle Bay’s Horticulture department at for more information and/or questions.

Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery:                                                                                                         Drought-tolerant plants, including a selection of California natives and others, are available at the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery, now open year-round Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Visit our interactive Nursery inventory list at . Green dot sale on specific plants. Look for the plant signs with green dots for 50% discounts!