Theater & Arts

Fresno's Chinatown lands entryway artwork

A new piece of public art is planned for the entryway into Fresno’s Chinatown.

“It’s going to be very nice, a pleasant entryway to Chinatown and a good way to get momentum going in that area,” says Terry Cox, project manager with the Fresno Redevelopment Agency.

The agency recently began Call to Artists, a project designed to promote art in the development of new businesses in areas targeted for redevelopment.

Here’s how it works: The agency commissions an artist to design art that is incorporated into a new business. The business dedicates space to showcase the art and pays for the maintenance. The art is owned by the public.

More than a year ago, the agency partnered with the Fresh & Easy neighborhood grocery store at Tulare and R streets to include a mural as part of the building’s facade.

The colorful mural features Valley mainstays, such as rivers, grapes and agricultural land.

The agency’s new project is for artwork to go at a corner of Fresno and E streets, where a new business owner plans to build a gas station with two storefronts. Agency officials also want the art to serve as a Chinatown entry point, where a lot of traffic comes from Highway 99 motorists using the Fresno Street exit.

“Being a major corridor, our agency wanted to clean up the area and work with the business owner and provide the artwork,” Cox says.

“It enhances the area there and that corridor. It also is in line with the city’s desire to have public art.”A tire business currently occupies the site, at 1350 Fresno St. It will be demolished to make way for the new gas station.

The Redevelopment Agency has budgeted $30,000 for the art project.

The business owner, George Beal, already has committed a portion of the property for the artwork and paid for enhancements in the basic design of the building for the art.

Now the agency is seeking proposals from artists.

A list of criteria is available at the agency’s Web site, fresnorda.com/pdf/calltoartists.pdf.

Cox says it is important that artists include a cover letter describing what they intend to do. The deadline is 5 p.m. Feb. 3. A panel will evaluate the proposals.

The reporter can be reached at rorozco@ fresno bee.com or (559) 441-6304.

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