The statue named “Califia”, an art piece standing at the corner of Main Street and Market Street welcoming people to Downtown Turlock, will not be relocated, according to Turlock Arts Commission Chair Lynn Sarraille. The decision came after a business owner in Downtown Turlock sent a request to the City of Turlock that the 14-foot statue be removed.
The business owner, who wished to remain anonymous, had requested the removal of the Califia statue stated that his reasoning was due to interest in renovating an adjacent building, and felt that the statue’s overwhelming size would hinder business.
The “Califia” statue, done by artist Donna Billick, was placed downtown in 2005. The garment covering Califia was made to represent Turlock and the Central Valley region, integrating the area’s agriculture into the cloak. Calafia, also known as Califia, is a fictional warrior queen from the mythical Island of California. Spanish writer Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo first introduced her in his popular novel entitled Las sergas de Esplandián. The name ‘California’ is most commonly believed to have come from this novel and the fictional Queen Califia, according to Ruth Putnam’s California: the name.
According to Sarraille, the business owner was willing to pay for the costs of relocating the state, as well as constructing a new art piece in its place.
While City staff presented six alternate locations for the statue should it be removed, the Commission agreed unanimously that the statue should remain in its original location.
The six alternate locations are as follows:
– The triangle property city-owned at the corners of Canal Drive and Bonita and Olive
– Broadway Park, corner of Orchard and First
– Canal Drive median at Main Street.
– Denair Park, at Rose and Main Street
– Turlock City Hall, S. Broadway
– Lander Avenue at Main Street
“We feel that yielding to a property owners request could subject public art to the discretion of individual property owner’s tastes and desires,” stated Sarraille. “And would erode the original purpose and goals of the Downtown Plan.”
Lilia Avila, of Universal Jewelers located across from the statue on the other side of Main Street, said that she and others like the statue. Avila explained that even groups of people come to see the statue and take pictures by the statue.
"I like it, we like it, and when people come downtown there’s not much to look at, but they come to look at the statue," said Avila. "I think it’s a good thing."
The Turlock Arts Commission chose to make a recommendation to the City Council to keep the statue in its original location, as it has been there for the past seven years, welcoming people to the Downtown Turlock area.
While the decision ultimately lies with the City Council, the Arts Commission felt very strongly within their recommendation to not relocate the statue.