Cheri Gaulke Designs Three Bridges in the San Fernando Valley


Six medallion designs for Tampa Bridge that depict and name flora, fauna and Tataviam villages in this section of the Los Angeles River

In 2003, I was commissioned by the Bridge Improvement Program to create designs for three San Fernando Valley bridges over the Los Angeles River that would be undergoing reconstruction. Now two of the bridges are complete and one is nearing completion. I am delighted to be sharing the design concepts and photographs of the work. The public art project was overseen by Los Angeles’ Cultural Affairs Department, Becky Snodgrass, project manager. I approached this project in the same way I approach most every project. I started by doing historical research about the streets and surrounding areas. I wanted to use the opportunity to tell stories about the community that contemporary residents might not know. I discovered some interesting things some of which are expressed in a representative style and others more abstractly.

Tampa Bridge with 24 medallions designed by Cheri Gaulke

Tampa Bridge with 24 medallions designed by Cheri Gaulke

Tampa Bridge Design, 2012, Los Angeles River, San Fernando Valley

Twenty-four circular medallions with six different designs are embedded in pylons at the four ends of the bridge. Each is a tribute to the indigenous people, plants, animals, birds, and fish of this section of the Los Angeles River. Silhouettes of a hawk, trout, coyote, oak tree, butterfly and cattail stand out against a background of names which form a kind of visual poetry of taxonomy. Porcelain enamel on steel, each medallion is 24” x 24” x 1”.

Designs for Wiinetka Bridge that celebrate local visionary Charles Weeks and his vision for the self-sustaining farm

Designs for Wiinetka Bridge that celebrate local visionary Charles Weeks and his vision for the self-sustaining farm

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Winnetka Bridge Design, 2012, Los Angeles River, San Fernando Valley

The Winnetka Bridge design is a tribute to Charles Weeks, a visionary and early developer of this area. A founder of Winnetka, Illinois, he came to the San Fernando Valley in 1920 at the invitation of the Chamber of Commerce with a utopian vision of self-sustaining farms. His development was called Charles Weeks Colony. Each medallion has a short text drawn from Weeks’ theories which he published in a book called One Acre and Independence. The earth-toned graphics are reminiscent of early 1900s illustrations. The chickens, bees and pear refer to Weeks’ formula for a successful farm. The larger panel depicts Weeks and his son surveying the land. Porcelain enamel on steel, medallions measure 42.5” x 36” and 42.5” x 50.5”.


Vanowen Bridge has cast concrete wheels that evoke the history of this street

Vanowen Bridge Design, 2013, Los Angeles River, San Fernando Valley

Vanowen Street got its name as the main thoroughfare between Van Nuys and Owensmouth (later renamed Canoga Park). The movement from place to place inspires two design motifs—the circle/wheel and the wave. The wave represents the river water ever-flowing beneath the bridge. Circles are powerful symbols found throughout all time and all cultures. They represent the sun, the earth, cycles, seasons, wholeness, community. When a circle becomes a wheel it adds the quality of movement—of time, progress, westward expansion, transportation. The wheels depicted on the bridge tell the history of the area—wagon wheels for settlers, gears for industry, film reels for movie production, tires for suburbia, and bicycle wheels for the new bike paths and energy-saving commuting. Cast concrete, metalwork, bridge measures 5’ x 80’ x 1’.

Tour of Art Along the Gold Line

"Water Street: River of Dreams," public art by Cheri Gaulke

Please join me on Saturday, June 26, 2010, 10 am for a very special event — Art Along the Gold Line — a docent and artist-led tour along the MTA’s Pasadena Gold Line. The tour is a fundraiser for the Avenue 50 Studio, a non-profit art gallery in Highland Park.

Join us as we artistically bridge East Los and Pasadena on the Metro Gold Line. Meet the artists of the Metro stations who will describe their artwork in the community. We will have refreshments as we travel along plus lunch will be provided by Home Girl Café.

The tour will be led by Vanessa Acosta, Board Member and owner of Cultural Arts Tours and Workshops with participating artists:
John Valadez — Memorial Park Station
Southwest Museum — MTA Docent
Cheri Gaulke — Cypress Park/Lincoln Heights Station
Little Tokyo Station — MTA Docent
Mariachi Plaza — MTA Docent
Paul Botello — Indiana Station
Maravilla Station — Jose Lopez
Clement Hanami — East LA Civic Center
Ulises Diaz — Atlantic Station
Michael Amescua — Union Station
Chinatown Station — MTA Docent

Donation:  $40 per person includes snacks and lunch. Please make checks payable to “Avenue 50 Studio.”

We will meet at the Pasadena Senior Center, 85 East Holly Street, Pasadena, CA 91103 for registration between 9:30 to 9:55 am. We will walk to the Memorial Station and begin the tour there. Refreshments will be served at the Senior Center. Parking is available at the Marriott for about $6 all day on Raymond, across from Memorial Park, next to the Armory Center for the Arts and Heritage Wine.

So if you’ve ever wanted to know more about the art on the Gold Line, this tour is for you! Maybe I’ll see you there.

Filipino WWII Veterans Memorial Featured in New Book

Los Angeles's Historic Filipinotown by Carina Monica Montoya

Los Angeles's Historic Filipinotown by Carina Monica Montoya

The Filipino WWIII Veterans Memorial I designed is included in a new book called “Los Angeles’s Historic Filipinotown” by author Carina Monica Montoya (from Arcadia Publishing). The Filipino American Library (FAL) will present a Book Launch on Saturday, April 4 at 2:00pm at Lake Street Park (227 N. Lake St., Los Angeles 90026). I am scheduled to speak briefly at 3:10. For more information about Montoya’s book contact or 213-382-0488.

Also on sale will be the book “Valor: Filipino World War II Veterans Memorial” that is an indepth look at the memorial itself. Published by Midmarch Arts Press, it includes essays by art writers Betty Ann Brown and Eleanor Heartney, as well as Filipino writers Enrique de la Cruz and Mae Respicio. Stunning photographs of the memorial by Kevin O’Malley plus all of the historic photos and information I culled for the memorial grace its pages. Both books sell for $20 each.

Valor: Filipino World War II Veternas Memorial by Cheri Gaulke

Valor: Filipino World War II Veternas Memorial by Cheri Gaulke

The City Council of Los Angeles officially designated Historic Filipinotown on August 2, 2002 . It is the first Filipino community in the United States to merit a named area with distinct geographic boundaries. Historic Filipinotown was once home to one of the largest Filipino enclaves in California , a place where many Filipinos purchased their first homes, raised families, and established businesses. The cultural continuity of the area’s Filipino families and businesses inspired the collective efforts of Filipino organizations, Los Angeles community leaders, and individuals to establish Historic Filipinotown and maintain its vibrant culture.

Come help us celebrate this community and the publishing efforts that keep its history alive.

College Art Association Conference Presentations on Public Art and Motherhood


This Wednesday, February 25, 2009, I will be on two panels at the College Art Association conference in Los Angeles. I am chairing the panel, What’s the Story: Public Art and Narrative. It requires a CAA conference pass which you can find out more about here The second panel, Breaking in Two and Mending: Art and Motherhood, is free and open to the public, as it is sponsored by Women’s Caucus for Art.



 Water Street: River of Dreams, Gaulke's metro station art

What’s the Story? Public Art and Narrative in Los Angeles


Wednesday, February 25, 9:30 am – 12 pm

West Hall Meeting Room 515A, Level 2, Los Angeles Convention Center

College Art Association 2009, Chair: Cheri Gaulke


Public art can be “plop art,” completely unrelated to its location, or it can be intimately connected to the history, culture, and geography of the place where it is sited. What happens when public artists see themselves in service of a story about the place or community in which the work will exist? What motivates the artist to approach the work in this way and what is the process of researching and creating the work? Los Angeles has a rich tradition of public art ranging from historic works from its founding in the nineteenth century through the WPA era, to more recent murals by community activists, to contemporary artworks integrated into metro stations, libraries, and civic locations. Many of these works reveal fascinating stories about the people, both ordinary and extraordinary, who have contributed to making Los Angeles into a multicultural city.
The presenters on this panel include scholars and working artists who will bring insights into a discussion of such issues as: How do artists distill complex historical stories into visual statements? What is the role of text in narrative-based visual art? How do public artists engage audiences as active viewers? Is collaboration with non-artists a component of making the work? Does the ethnic identity of the artists and the communities, if different, present challenges in the production of the work? Does the gender or politics of the artists to be featured in this panel presentation, which are female and feminist, play a role in their aesthetic or thematic approach?
Outline of Panel Presentations:

Cheri Gaulke – Overview showing many LA works by women and raising some issues that can be discussed

Marlena Doktorczyk Donohue – “The Theory and Practice of Social Story Telling” Donohue will lay out a theoretical framework while discussing specific projects by Kim Abeles and Cheri Gaulke.

Holly Barnet-Sanchez – “Meanings that Change Over Time – The Public Faces of Murals at Estrada Courts Housing Project in East LA” An historic look at murals produced in a federally funded housing project in the 1970s.

May Sun – will present her many works in LA that incorporate text and storytelling including “Listening for the Trains to Come” in Chinatown, “La Ballona” in Culver City, “Sky Coyote” in Woodland Hills, “Flow” in Pasadena, (title?) in Union Station, and the Hollywood & Western Red Line Subway station.

Sheila de Bretteville“LA to Ekaterinburg; how this story develops…” De Bretteville will discuss the evolution of her public art practice from early Los Angeles public artworks (Biddy Mason wall, Little Tokyo sidewalk) to a recent project in Russia.

Jacki Apple – on the Venice Oakwood Project which presents a visual and oral history of African-American seniors in Venice.

 Gaulke and her family

Breaking in Two and Mending: Art and Motherhood

Wednesday, February 25, 12:30 – 2 pm

Concourse Meeting Room 406AB, Level 2, Los Angeles Convention Center

Sponsored by CAA/Women’s Caucus for Art

A lively discussion about the challenges faced by artist-mothers, as well as the benefits of their very full lives. The session is structured around 5 themes, with two panelists each conversing about that theme. 


Pairings and Themes:

Alison Saar/Tierney Gearon (motherhood as content)

The artist-mother, in her expression of motherhood, breaks away from the image of motherhood fed to us by the media. What new ways do we see artist-mothers expressing an essential topic that has been trivialized and devalued because it is too ‘obvious.’ What is the public’s reaction to these artistic expressions of motherhood?

Kim Yasuda/Cheri Gaulke (the artist’s space and the home space)

How do artist-mothers deal with conflicting priorities? The artist-mother can be pulled equally by both the need to produce art and the need to respond to children’s needs and be present with the family. Culturally, these have been incompatible if we still think of the artist as being selfish, self-obsessed and the mother as selfless, all-sacrificing.Please also discuss partners in the home, especially supportive partners.

Linda Vallejo/Kim Abeles (financial dependence/independence)

How do women make it in the art world? What have been some of the choices they have made in order to sustain their art and make it all work? The social/economical system is not supportive of professional women who have children, and even less of artists who have children. How does this affect women as a whole?  How does it affect different ethnic groups?  For some professions in the arts, is it an advantage to hide one’s identity as mother in order to get a job?

Ruth Weisberg/ Alicia Weisberg-Roberts (generational issues / role models / leading meaningful lives, child’s perspective)

What differences have there been in raising children in the 70s as opposed to raising children today? What rewards have there been for both mother and child when the artist-mother is dedicated to both aspects of her life? What is this like when the children are still at home, as compared to later when the children leave and are independent?

Bruria Finkel/Sabine Sighicelli (exhibition / documentary)

Breaking in Two:  The Exhibition will explore the image and place of the mother in our culture through four generations of artists

Breaking in Two:  The Documentary Film focuses on the creation of this group exhibition, as a starting point for an exploration into the mother’s psyche and into our culture’s conditioning.




Neighborhood Church Green Fair

green-fairThis is the Unitarian Universalist Church that I attend in Pasadena. This Saturday, Jan. 31, 10 am – 4 pm, they will be hosting a Green Fair. There will be live music, environmental films, kids’ crafts, healthy food, vendors with sustainable products, a succulent sale, and more. It’s free!

And here’s a bonus. You can meet the kids I recently went to Ethiopia with who will be selling their books to raise money for water wells. They are YouthInkwell Publishing. And you can see my most recently completed public art piece — a glass, steel and stone “flaming chalice” set in a rain garden.

For more info go to the website,