A Challenge to Sacramento Artists

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I’m not an artist, but very appreciative of various kinds of art. As such, I have read that, in general, art is made with the intention of stimulating thoughts and emotions. In the arts, “media (plural of medium) are the materials and techniques used by an artist to produce a work.”

It is up to the creativity and imagination of the artist to select from a wide variety of media the material(s) and technique(s) to use when creating a work of art. There is an extremely wide variety of such materials and techniques that an artist is able to use when producing a work of art.

Kansas teenagers who created the art shown in the photos below tapped highly unusual materials available free in their rural community. The basic material was straw left over from harvesting wheat. They used various arrangements of that straw which included loose straw, straw compacted in round, large rectangular/and or smaller bales, some coloring products and discarded bits or pieces of probably “junk” or litter to bring each creation to life.

With that background, I challenge Sacramento artists to use their imaginations to gather whatever materials that they may find discarded, lying around at home or in the streets to use whatever techniques they may choose to mold such materials into a work of art. Perhaps, the finished works can be preserved and displayed at various locations in Midtown or Downtown on the Mall.

Hints: I have seen photos in other cities of discarded tires carved into animal figures, chicken wire molded into bird or animal forms with vines planted at the base and pruned as they grow to fill out the wire forms, bush or small tree topiary trees, litter arranged into figures, machines, etc.

While there are art galleries whose owners are very serious about promoting art, I believe that the Second Saturday “art walk” hoopla has morphed into just an excuse for partying and getting drunk in MIdtown. I doubt that any one of those self-proclaimed "artists" is able to top the Kansas high school kids’ creations shown below. Further, I don’t think those that call themselves "artists" here have the creativity and skills to replicate or create new forms of anything unique related to art.  Anyone willing to take the challenge to prove me wrong?


Straw Castles on the prairie

Straw Fort in the wheat field


Happy face


Straw Monster

Family Time

Straw Henge

Yikes!  A raid!  We give up!


You name it.

A bearded happy face


Little Miss Muffet’s Spider

Papa Straw, Mama Straw and Baby Straw

To the Moon in a Straw Space Ship

A Straw Maze

Straw bale ferris wheel

Straw Boss

"Bringing in the Sheaves" 

Straw Windmill

Straw hangover

Frosty, the straw man

  • “I doubt that any one of those self-proclaimed [Sacramento] “artists” is able to top the Kansas high school kids’ creations shown below.”

    You’re kiddiing…right?

    • Dale Kooyman

      Nope. But time will tell.

  • Lynn Mayugba

    I have to chime in and say that many Sacramento artists specialize in “found object ” art. There is actually quite a movement in this medium. As far as students go, Phoebe Hearst Elementary School collected and created an enormous “junk” sculpture in the Spring at their DIY artwalk. It was incredible and extremely creative. I also cannot fail to mention one of Sacramento’s best artists Steve Vanoni. Known for being a pioneer in outsider, performance and found object art. I think he could meet your challenge. Especially with his art cars. Check out Gallery Horse Cow.

    • Dale Kooyman

      Thanks Lynn. Good start. Where are these works displayed? Have any photos? Any worthy of placing in prominent places in Midtown or Downtown for visitor to see the local talent?

  • Bill Burgua

    Chicago had its’ cows. Elk Grove its’ elk. How about monster tomatos for Sacto.

    • Dale Kooyman

      A Chicago friend sent me a copy of the book that has photos of all the cows that were displayed and where they were on show if you ever want to see it. They were dressed or adorned to represent women in every walk of life–from glamorous movie stars and fashion models to mothers and working business women in the Loop. They attracted tourists from all over the world. When the show ended that year most were sold. Chicago retained a few of what the community felt were the most creative. The sale made the art community tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    • William Burg

      “Attack of the Killer Sacratomatoes”?

    • then Sacramento should have its bulls.

  • Lynn Mayugba

    Was it Portland or Seattle that had pigs? Trying to remember.
    Dale, you would love Steve’s art cars. Steve used to have a GIANT compound with all of his art on it. Gallery Horse Cow did just move though. Will try and find the new location for you.

    • Dale Kooyman

      Bill should know about Seattle but the pigs I had not heard about.

    • Seattle.

  • Lynn Mayugba

    Gallery Horse Cow
    1610 North C Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
    (916) 441-4320

    • Dale Kooyman

      i’ve seen the bovine one for years on 16th but seems the last time I saw it, it was changed from a Hereford to another breed. It has been around for years and is great!.

    • William Burg

      Horse Cow hasn’t been at the North C Street location for a couple of years.

  • Way to trivialize Sacramento artists (or “artists,” as you call them) even though you have no idea what you’re talking about and no credibility whatsoever to even offer such a challenge.

    And I’m pretty sure hay bale snowmen littered around the city would bring Sacramento right back to the old days of being one big trailer park.

    • Dale Kooyman

      Let’s have a constructive dialogue like the other commenters. Instead, you choose to demean my knowledge and “credibility” but do not state your expertise that qualifies you to render such a personal attack.

      Read the article again, and you will find the first two paragraphs were either a direct quote or condensation of persons’ statements who are recognized as experts in the art world. I never suggested as you mistakenly conclude, that any of the artists here use the media or techniques that the Kansas teenagers did. BTW, as shown repeatedly in the photos and captions, they used STRAW not hay .

  • Lynn Mayugba

    Dale, one more artist you would like. Her name is Galelyn Williams. She lived here for years and actually worked at Tower Broadway. All of her art is “lost and found” objects. She now resides in Brooklyn, but comes here on a regular basis and has shows at Jay Jay Gallery on Elvas Ave. She does have a piece at the Crocker as well.


    • Dale Kooyman

      Thanks again, Lynn, for adding something positive and educational to the discussion.

  • How about a decorated bike (and art car) parade for all ages?

  • P W

    So-You’re not an artist – and although you use the generality of “being appreciative of various kinds of art”, you have the arrogance to end your little essay with a challenge to Sacramento artists to come up with something as “original” as sculpting/painting bales of hay? This would be like me saying that all of the doctors in Sacramento suck – so prove me wrong and find a cure for cancer! Your illogical leap is laughable. You should only write about those topics with which you are familiar and/or have done a little research on before embarrassing yourself. Again.

    • “With that background, I challenge Sacramento artists to use their imaginations to gather whatever materials that they may find discarded, lying around at home or in the streets to use whatever techniques they may choose to mold such materials into a work of art. Perhaps, the finished works can be preserved and displayed at various locations in Midtown or Downtown on the Mall.”

  • This article, and the rain, makes me want to re-watch David Byrne’s “True Stories” for some reason.

  • Dale Kooyman

    Bill, when it was a Hereford, some traffic accident or event hit it and it went somewhere for a repair. A couple of weeks ago as a friend and I were diving out 16th, we saw it again. Maybe the owner is fearful something might happen to it again and does not leave it out all of the time.

    As naga points out, I was offering a challenge to the artists to benefit their own careers and Sacramento, but PW is not capable of understanding that. As psychologists have confirmed, over the centuries man has a need to express art ranging from hieroglyphics in caves to the development of painting oils. Man has and will continue to find original ways to use various media to express that need for art. But PW finds it much easer and faster to make disrespectful remarks which shows his/her own ignorance and unwillingness to add anything positive or creative to the subject.

    The facts are that I have taken several college art classes and those who know me know I have a collection of classic prints by the masters, original oil by Frank, an original Jack London oil, two copies of Lautrec lithographs, Japanese wood block, a library of art books and videos of the French and Dutch Impressionists to mention only a few of whom I doubt PW knows anything about. Over the years I’ve had numerous art and sculpture friends whose creative skills I respect highly and had so many thoughtful discussions after visiting art museums in NYC, Chicago, LA, Washington D.C. SF and other smaller cities. This why I say that I’m no artist when compared to my friends or the works we viewed.

    What is more sad than laughable is PW’s incoherent analogy, totally inapplicable. I guess this shows how much education has deteriorated. And like Josh, he/she doesn’t know hay from straw even when it is identified in pictures and words right before his/her eyes. Now, PW, reflect on your own lack of knowledge and empty opinions.

    • Hay or straw, whatever. All I know is if you took one of those straw monstrosities to any curator they would laugh you out of town. Unless, of course, that town was in Tennessee.

  • Lynn Mayugba

    Gallery Horse Cow
    Does anyone have the newest location? It’s not on C St. or Del Paso.

    • Dale Kooyman

      It may not have a permanent location. I only know what we saw the other day on 16th Streeet.

    • David Alvarez


      The last place they were moving to or moved to was 721 North B St.

      I ran into Allen Denault this summer who may be running Horse Cow now and he lives in Placerville and was going to do a project up there (this was in August). I’m not really sure if it’s now located in Sacramento or Placerville.


  • Dale Kooyman

    PW, your comments reflect that you know nothing about the subject, are unable or unwilling to contribute anything positive and will not admit when you are shown to be wrong one example only is your ignorant use of hay when the medium was straw–very different natural products.

  • Ohhh yeah, I remember what else I’ve got to say! Yeah, folk art throughout North America as well as Outsider stuff has a sort of longstanding tradition of using reclaimed materials, read junk. There’s been a lot of memorable examples over the years (furinstance Willard Watson, art car pioneer whose house was used in True Stories). So it’s always been here, and sure, a revival of any art trend or movement is always possible.

    Another suggestion I would have is to buy outdated photographic/video media (eg that old b&w VHS camera at the Goodwill or 8mm or Land Camera) and see what you can come up with. Mr. Fuoco had a lot of fun with that widescreen projector back in the 80’s…

  • Geoff Samek

    In a sense all artists are self-proclaimed. When one makes art, as a career or a hobby, that act then defines one as an artist.

    I would also contend that your definition of art as being made with the, ” intention of stimulating thoughts and emotions,” is not entirely on point. Would every piece of art that hangs in a museum hold true to that strict definition? Perhaps amending it include not just intention but “affecting thought and emotion,” would aid the definition.

    The suggestion that Sacramento use found items to produce art for our city is a lovely suggestion and challenge.

    Any hostile response to your article is derived from the fact that you end it hurling emotional and hurtful insults at the entire Sacramento art community.

    • Dale Kooyman

      As I explained earlier, the quote you used I took from an art historian whom I respect as having credibility. So you might want to tell him. But to answer your question, yes, I do believe “every piece of art hanging in museum” holds to that definition–some evoking more of both and some evoking less than others, so much depends on the viewer. The message is in the work of art and some get it and some don’t. Some messages are very simple, whimsical or fun messages like the straw art and others convey a “heavier” message. It would be interesting to talk to you in person to expand that discussion.

      As to the hostile remarks, note that the positive ones understood the challenge that I offered and made suggestions and I thanked them for it. The hostile ones did not come from artists as one admitted. They were empty and contributed nothing to the challenge or the dialogue. Such comments mean nothing to me, but I do answer them pointless as it may be. I think that you’ve noticed this unfortunate attitude in comments for many articles sacpress publishes. Sacpress offers a great service to our community and thanks for doing it.

      Incidentally,the technique that I chose to offer the challenge is one that various groups use to stimulate response. Coaches during practice often demean their team members to spur them to do better. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. In my case, it didn’t. But I’m not sure any sweet talk as one of your staff suggested would have either. I have no idea how many of the artists have a computer or read sacpress, so that may have contributed to he lack of response.

    • The real challenge here seems to be to put art back into the art walk. The was it was worded was so hyperbolic it can’t seriously be taken as “hurling emotional and hurtful insults at the entire Sacramento art community.” In the context it was written, seems to be a call for the 2nd Sat party poseurs to collaborate on an idea that engages and gives back to the community, centered on actual artwork.

  • Dale Kooyman

    Thanks Naga, you got it exactly right. Sorry to say that the challenge has not spurred reactions from those who can actually do as you interpreted.

  • Dale Kooyman

    Josh, while Tennessee is not one of my favorite states to visit, why do you have the arrogance, if not prejudice and ignorance, to judge it as you have? In fact, this straw art did receive excellent reviews from some art groups who praised it as “original, creative, humorous and unique.” Those qualities you apparently lack appreciation for. Instead, you expect people to think just like you it seems. Straw, like chalk art, does not happen to be a medium that can be preserved or travel well but that does not make either of them any less a work of art.

  • Hi, thanks Lynn for the kind words of support…. Horsecow is currently reforming and regrouping there is limited web presence available…… It is great what the people did with the hay bales, very lovely indeed….. Most artists like everyone else are most likely trying to make it through these tough times and dealing with it as they do…. It is a lovely challenge, Dale, but artists like everyone else work in different ways…. We can’t always drop what we are in the middle of and run to perhaps go create political works that will help save a particular group of suffering people even though it might be the best thing that we can do….. there are many challenges for all of us……. Last summer I conducted a workshop in with a group of Finnish artists in Finland for one week, 8 hours a day doing precisely what you suggested; we went to a dump gathered materials and one week later had a public reception for the “COM-POST-MODERN SCULPTURES FOR THE AVANT GARDENERS” Art Exhibition which took place in a lush outdoor nature area outside of the gallery grounds… what a great show and a great group of folks to work with………. Sacramento like everywhere in the world needs more art everywhere and needs to learn how to take care of it’s
    citizens well being; roof over head and a full stomach, etc…………… much love to all of you, Steve Vanoni

  • here is a link to the project and some other things from finland etc… this past summer
    a great video by my great friend Errki Pirtola….
    I hope that you enjoy it…


    if you put it in your browser you can check it out yayayayayay………… sweeet peace….

  • P W

    Tomato, tamato. Ignorance is bliss, as evidenced by most of your missives. You’re right: I DO know nothing about the subject…and even less-so after reading your “art-ikle”

    • Dale Kooyman

      Again you show YOUR ignorance by your first two words. Hay is food for animals and straw is bedding for animals and was used for human bedding for centuries in countries that grew grain. But I doubt that you know what grain is. And the article was not intended to educate about art–only to pose a challenge to Sacramento’s artists, but you didn’t understand that either.