The multi-faceted Warren Street Improvement Project has an ongoing sidewalk art section which, if all goes according to plan, will be a continuous flow of related themes that celebrate the Eastern Sierra, past and present.
Artist Charles Milligan is working with the Warren project collaborators, Andy Holmes, owner of Triad/Holmes Associates and Matt Schober, Triad’s Warren Street engineer. “We’re doing a narrative for the street, a flow system for all six blocks, that incorporates many themes.”
Primarily using terra-cotta and Miami buff colored cement and embedded designs, those themes include a walk of the stars, petroglyphs, cattle brands, wild and domestic animal tracks and more, life-long artist Milligan explained. So far, the ideas that he, Schober, Holmes, Public Works Director David Grah and others have brainstormed, “have been received enthusiastically by the Warren project “focus group, the general public, people I’ve been talking to.”
The Walk of Stars theme would be Bishop’s version of Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s Chinese Theatre) sidewalk. Instead of Rock Hudson and Marilyn Monroe’s hands, the Walk of Stars would display impressions of famous Eastern Sierra horses and mules and people, too, Milligan said.
“We want to get permission from the (Bishop Paiute) Tribe to do a petroglyph display at the southeast corner of Church and Warren with embedded bits of volcanic glass, obsidian, sparkling in the sun, a kind of (landscape along which) the little goats would run.”
One morning Milligan woke up with an idea for native animal and bird tracks leading up to the Inyo Mono Free Library’s exterior wall mural – a la “Far Side” cartoons. “I thought it would be humorous.” Across the street, horse and mule shoe tracks will be coming out of the southeast parking lot at Academy and Warren streets, a wink at the fact that what probably used to be a horse lot is now a car lot, Milligan said.
Historic local cattle brands and mining tool themes are more up in the air, Milligan said; no location has been confirmed and local experts have yet to be contacted, Milligan said.
Milligan said he has also been working with merchants “who come to me to give their businesses’ appearance subtle, modest upgrades. The Sierra Thrift Mall (owner) wants some ideas for ‘refreshing the storefront,’” for example.
The public is invited to attend today’s 5:30 p.m. Warren project planning meeting in the City Hall conference room at 377 W. Line St. While Milligan said that there should be some discussion about where to begin the sidewalk art phase and a progress report summary given, “the focus of the meeting will be on prioritizing the entire project, now, to look at phasing it for construction for 2014 and some that will be built later,” Grah explained. “We believe the sidewalk markings (aspect of the project) will be funded in this initial phase.”
Next on Milligan’s to-do list is producing a layout of the entire six-block flow in three large drawings which will be due in a month or so and will then be posted on the Public Works page at http://www.ca-bishop.us/ .
A bit off topic, Milligan added that “we want to create something dramatic as the focal point” where Warren Street ends at South Street by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power lot. Grah suggested a Pelton wheel, a kind of water turbine, and Southern California Edison has a nine-foot and several six-foot wheels that might be available, he said – they could be installed with a history of local power houses on the pedestal.
“There are a lot more stories on my wish list and we are always looking for additional ideas from the public,” Milligan said. Grah added that dropping an email to PublicWorks@ca-bishop.us  would probably be the most convenient way for the community to contribute ideas, “but we’ll take sketches on a napkin, too.”