The West City Tour begins at Rotary Community Park located at the corner of Highway 150 and the 33. It ends at the Ojai Valley In and Spa.
ROTARY COMMUNITY PARK
A. Freedom Chase
Nationally recognized metal sculptor, Theodore Gall, sculpted an imposing horse as the centerpiece of Rotary Community Park. The 9,000 pound Corten steel horse was Gall’s gift to the City. A wood mark-up was made from Gall’s original paper drawing. Next, iron bender Andrew Ecsedy of Ojai cut out each piece of the horse from steel. The pieces were welded together and the horse was lifted onto a flatbed truck by a crane and brought to the park for installation. At one time, Ojai Community Park was a stage coach stop; the horse in full gallop is a fitting symbol to greet Ojai residents and visitors. Gall, a Chicago native, began his art career in animation and graphic design. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the American Academy of Art.
B. Rotary Community Park Shelter
RTK studios donated the hand glazed artisan tiles that grace the park shelters’ benches. The tiles use an old Spanish Moor technique learned by Richard Keit and Mary Kennedy, RTK Tile owners and artists. A line is drawn around colored areas using a bulb syringe filled with manganese carbonate and oil. When the tiles are fired, the mixture burns off leaving the dark outline. It is used to perfection here, as well as in tile artworks found throughout Ojai.
C. Voices of Ojai
Throughout Rotary Park, etched in stone, you will find quotations from well-known Ojaians such as Jiddu Krishnamurti and Annie Besant.The Park Shelter’s support columns are also decorated with quotes. Artist, Hope Fraser, designed the project to tie the past to the present bringing history to life.
Continue east on Ojai Avenue to Country Club Road and turn right to the Ojai Valley Inn.
THE OJAI VALLEY INN
Note: The Inn will happily escort you around the grounds in search of the public art pieces described here. The shuttle service is complimentary.
D. Main Lobby Triptych and Olivella Restaurant Mixed Media Artwork
A massive three-panel artwork, 4 1/2-feet high that spans over 8-feet, graces the Inn’s main lobby wall. Artist, Pamela Grau drew upon the organic aesthetics of nature to create an elegant, welcoming and serene artwork that compliments the colors of the lobby’s decor. Grau, known throughout California for her art installations, incorporated small balls of clay, that she tirelessly hand rolled. Another artwork, “Mixed Media,” by this unique artist decorates the wall of the entrance to one of the Inn’s restaurants, Olivella. In her other environmentally aware artworks, Grau has used rolled-up discarded socks!
E. Fountain of the Four Suns
A magnificent fountain can be found in the Inn’s central courtyard area. The beautifully tiled fountain, designed by architect, Bill Mahan, represents the four cardinal directions. The four suns were hand carved by Joe Kleeman—then a mold was made and cast. The columns of turquoise tiles dividing the four panels are an Algerian pattern, an identical pattern to tiles found on an old fountain at a George Washington Smith designed house located on Foothill Road in Ojai. Numerous fountains grace the courtyard and walls of the Inn’s extensive compound. There is, for example, a dolphin fish wall fountain near the spa’s front entrance, and a beautifully tiled wall fountain on the second floor spa balcony.
F. The Artists Cottage
A hacienda style Artists Cottage is used by local Ojai artists to teach a variety of classes including pottery, painting, drawing, wreath making, batik, and papermaking. There are looms for various fiber arts such as weaving. A hand-hammered copper lambic, a shallow, flat metal pan, was imported from Europe to distill essential oils from lavender and other herbs grown on the Inn’s herb gardens so that guests can create their own personalized creams and lotions.
G. Farmhouse Welcoming Table and Benches
The Farmhouse is the Inn’s event center. Opened in 2019, it features an epicurean kitchen that can showcase any variety of culinary events. The courtyard just outside the kitchen is home to the Welcoming Table and in the adjacent grotto, two complimentary benches.
The artwork was created by Ojai Valley teacher and artisan woodworker, Ryan Lang. The table’s enormous planks are made from salvaged redwood that survived the 2017 Thomas Fire. Serendipitously, the redwood came from a stand of 30 year old trees tat grew on the very spot the Farmhouse now calls home. The story of the redwood’s journey is etched on the table top, and along the side and over the edge, the “ghost spirit” of the tree is formed with forged metal. The matching benches each have their own “ghost spirit” .
H. Siri Hollander Sculptures
Tucked into pathway border gardens throughout the grounds of the Inn. are delightful sculptures by artist Siri Hollander. They include “Resting Horse,” “Prance,”and “Family.” Hollander combines steel and cement to create a mold. The mold is then cast in bronze, leaving the rough texture that is her trademark. Hollander lived most of her childhood in Andalusia, Spain. Influenced by a family of artists, she began sculpting at the age of seventeen. She established a connection with horses and other animals that surrounded her in her youth. She apprenticed with several accomplished sculptors both in America and Spain, eventually developing her own sculptural form.