Partnership yields symbolic public art piece

By Chris Michlewicz-    A group of high school students was asked to create a public art sculpture that represents a community. The result was a masterpiece that will stand for years to come. The collaborative art project between Chaparral High School and Newland Communities yielded a thoughtful, inspiring piece that will be installed this fall in Market Green Park west of Jordan Road and Market Street near the Stonegate and Park Guell neighborhoods.
The sculpture concept depicts a wind-swept circle of leaves of different shapes and colors that represent the variety of people and activities in Stonegate. The artistic poles that hold up leaves reflect the stability that the community brings to the many families living in the area.
Two Chaparral seniors, Carlos Luna Sanchez and Lauren Lucero, teamed up to create the public art piece and are proud that their names will forever be engraved on a symbolic amenity that will exist for decades.
Lucero, who took four years of sculpture classes, said she and Luna Sanchez were given a set of criteria and brainstormed several ideas before coming up with the winning concept. Luna Sanchez, an aspiring artist, said he drew numerous sketches before the idea blossomed.
“When we thought of family, we thought of a tree and the leaves that fall off a tree. They all come from the same tree, but are a little different from each other, so we thought that would be a good representation,” Luna Sanchez said.
Newland Communities, a residential land developer that is bringing new homes to the northern portion of Stonegate, wanted to tap the talent of young artists at Chaparral.
“The winning piece incorporates everything that Stonegate stands for,” said Jennifer Donlan, marketing coordinator for Newland Communities. “We thought by letting them design their own amenities, they could make it their community.”
Only seven students participated in the project, but the caliber of work made it difficult for the judging panel to decide on a winner. The judging panel consisted of representatives from Newland Communities, Stonegate residents Sandi Cliver and Joanne Faul, and Chaparral assistant principal Karl Smith.
Alicia Conrad, who teaches third- and fourth-level sculpture students and headed the project, said the students were required to present the project to her as if she were the chief executive officer of a design firm.
Each group was given an expenditure sheet and was required to draw sketches and build a scale model of their concept. Luna Sanchez and Lucero stayed within the parameters and delighted the judges with their creativity and artistic abilities.
“The project was site specific and the costs were very clear. They had to decide what worked best for the space and incorporate the surroundings while staying under a certain amount of money,” Conrad said.
Bruff Shea, senior vice president of operations for Newland Communities, spurred the idea and brought it to life. The students did the rest.
“Bruff wanted something that involved the school in the community. I think we are a good resource,” Conrad said.
Although it is the first collaboration between Chaparral and Newland Communities, it is one of many ventures between the land developer local schools. The company also tapped into elementary school students to design a park in Stonegate.
“It has been a wonderful experience. The abstract piece is very well done and very impressive,” Donlan said.