For 30 years, mother-child sculpture graced bench in downtown Escondido. Then city moved it to Grape Day Park

A bronze statue of a mother and child that was a fixture on Escondido’s Grand Avenue for three decades has moved to a new home in Grape Day Park to the dismay of some residents.

The sculpture, called Reflections on Downtown, had been on a bench in front of Filippi’s Pizza Grotto since 1990, when it was commissioned by the city of Escondido from sculptor TJ Dixon.

The decision to move the statue came as the city carried out renovations along Grand Avenue aimed at slowing traffic and encouraging such pedestrian-friendly activities as outdoor dining downtown. Construction on the first phase of the Grand Avenue Vision plan began in January and is almost complete.

The statue was removed from its longtime home on Grand Avenue in January to make way for construction and was stored in a public works yard until last week, when it was reinstalled in its new home on a Broadway bus bench in front of Grape. Day Park, near Escondido City Hall.

Not everyone is thrilled with the move.

This mother and child state bench was recently moved from Grand Avenue in downtown Escondido to its new location along Broadway in Grape Day Park.

(Don Boomer / For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

“Why would they move it? (Grand Avenue) is where she belongs,” said Patti Thompson, a local realtor and founder of the Escondido Friends Facebook page, which has about 60,000 members.

Thompson’s post about the move generated more than 50 comments, most in favor of keeping the statue where it was and some supporting the move.

Thompson said she has fond memories of posing for photos of the sculpture with her family members and looking inside the lady’s purse to be amazed by a face the artist had carved there.

Thompson questioned why public input wasn’t sought if the statue were to be moved, and she’s worried that part of Escondido’s history will be forgotten now that the statue is out of the way of pedestrian traffic on Grand Avenue. She also opposes removing other benches along the Grand, where she and others could stop for a break while shopping, dining or attending events such as Cruisin’ Grand.

Danielle Lopez, assistant director of Community Services with the city of Escondido, said crews began removing benches along Grand in late 2020 to make way for construction, which included narrowing the road to one lane in each direction and widening of sidewalks.

The sculptural ornament was left in place as long as possible until work began on that segment of the Grand.

While the city did not seek public comment on the plan to move the bronze statue, Lopez said, the city notified the Escondido Public Art Commission and consulted with the artist’s family as required by the city’s original contract for the piece. That document specified that the city was to identify three possible new locations for the statue.

Since artist TJ Dixon died in 2018, the city reached out to her husband and artistic partner, James Nelson, who agreed that the Grape Day Park location was the best option, Lopez said.

While some may miss seeing the bronze statue in its usual place on the Grand, Lopez said, those who brave the sculpture’s new perch on a bus bench on Broadway may also get a chance to see parts of other public art at Grape Day Park. as well as a new mural at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido.

“It’s still downtown,” Lopez said of the bronze sculpture.

Space for benches along the Grand is tight with areas now reserved for outdoor dining, Lopez said, but those who want them can bring the idea when discussions begin on the next phases of the Grand Avenue Vision Project.

Nelson, the artist’s husband, said he agreed with city officials that Grape Day Park is the best option to move the bronze, and he doesn’t think the piece’s meaning will be changed by its new location.

Nelson said he appreciated the city reaching out to him, but ultimately choosing the new location was the city’s decision.

“Once a customer buys a piece, it’s their part to do with what they want,” Nelson said. “Things change and sometimes pieces have to be moved.”

But he understands the sentiments of those who wanted to see the sculpture stay at the Grand. “It’s good that it’s important enough for them to think about it and be concerned,” he said.

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For 30 years, mother-child sculpture graced bench in downtown Escondido. Then city moved it to Grape Day Park Source link For 30 years, mother-child sculpture graced bench in downtown Escondido. Then city moved it to Grape Day Park

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