Art All Around You

Public art helps a community make sense of its history, to celebrate important people, act as an ode to a city’s natural resources, and sparks the imagination. Here are a few of the types of public artwork you can discover with the new map and how each piece plays a role in telling Anaheim’s story. 

The People of Anaheim 

A number of pieces pay tribute to the individuals who have shaped Anaheim’s history. One example is “Knowse to the Grind Stone” by the well-known public artist Buster Simpson. Simpson specializes in using upcycled and/or recycled materials. Knowse to the Grind Stone is a monumental wooden head in profile with its nose quite literally to a grindstone! The work is at once a tribute to the hard physical labor performed by workers of the past and the mainly “mental” labor accomplished by the laborers of today.

This piece is adjacent to Libations and Gaming on W Center Street Promenade. Additional works centered around people include the “Business Archway” (to the left of Pour Vida),  “Valencia Orange Tree Crates” (adjacent to RARE Goodwill) both also by Simpson, “Hammer Clock” by Daniel J. Martinez, “Anvil and Nails” by Nobuho Nagasawa, and the Anaheim History Mosaic on the Chase bank building by the late Californian artist and educator Millard Sheets


“The Coyote Bench” by Nobuho Nagasawa next to Por Vida Tacos on Center St. Promenade, is much more than simply a place to rest. It pays tribute to the coyote as an adaptable animal whose relationship has changed with people over time, and to the Native Americans who lived in this region long ago. The letters “YTUR” prominently feature on the front of the bench representing the phonetic pronunciation of the Gabrieleño word for “coyote.” Made of exposed rock sourced directly from the earth but embedded in concrete, the tension between urban development and nature and between past and present is ever-present. 

Other functional site-specific works include “Public Utility Forum” by Buster Simpson, an open-air social gathering space located in front of the Anaheim Public Utilities building, as well as the Anaheim “A” Benches scattered throughout CtrCity, also by Simpson, the Anaheim ICE building by the eminent architect Frank Gehry, the restored Packing House building by Thirtieth Street Architects, the information hubs “Video Trees” by Daniel J. Martinez, and the MUZEO sign by custom creator Chance O’Neill

Relationship to Nature

The fifty German-American families who founded our city chose to name it Anaheim, meaning “home by the river,” highlighting the importance of the Santa Ana River in the settler’s eyes. Several works of public art pay homage to the Santa Ana. Sculptor Lloyd Hamrol used river rock in “City Terrace” to convey a roaming tributary. The stone sculpture next to the Civic Center has Sycamore trees planted nearby; trees that thrive in riverside locales.

Nursery planter boxes and concrete planters by Simpson and Nagasawa, Art Haus tree gates by Nancy Castillo, and the Exchanger Fountain at the corner of Center Street Promenade and Lemon by Buster Simpson all speak relationship between the city and its natural resources.  


“The Neighborhood” by Peter Shire, is an art installation in the courtyard of the Harbor Lofts on Center Street Promenade. Comprised of twelve vertical poles in varying colors, ranging from twelve to sixteen feet high are topped with lighting and moving elements, some in the shape of homes. The piece evokes the delicacy of Alexander Calder’s mobiles while the vertical elements recall another famous public installation in front of L.A.’s LACMA Museum:  Urban Light by Chris Burden. “Granite People” by Buster Simpson, in front of the Business Archway, has concrete “tables” made indigenous rock carried by steel “people” is another piece that uses shape and form to create an emotional reaction. 


Many times public art can serve as a reminder or a quiet place of reflection. The Veteran’s Monument and Plaza next to the MUZEO building on S. Anaheim Blvd. and designed by Richard Turner exemplifies the purpose of this kind of art. The everyday life of veterans from WWI through the Gulf War is depicted in bas-relief, wrapping around a circular stone monument. Everything is symbolic in the surrounding courtyard:  from the olive trees representing peace to the fountains etched with war years. The Mito Fountain, dedicated to Anaheim’s Japanese sister city Mito, Japan, by Wet Design located in the Carnegie Plaza in front of the Mix building, the nearby Mito Pledge wall donated by the sister city, also offer moments to take a pause to reflect on shared values and ideas. 

With art all around us, the city itself becomes a museum: living, vibrant and like the Anaheim, always changing. View the new CtrCity interactive map here to experience art in a new way. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *