I always see these signs on Park Boulevard and I’ve often wondered about them. Richard Gleaves, a professional artist and one of the U-T’s new arts bloggers, posted a photo of one of the signs today as part of his series looking at public art. The 12 sculptures, along Park Boulevard across from the zoo, resemble playful versions of street signs.

Here’s a Google maps view of one of the pieces; you can move up and down the road to see the rest.

Gleaves posted an LA Times story from 1989, from which we learn this was the city of San Diego’s first public art purchase. (Really? I thought. Chicago dedicated its Picasso sculpture in the 1960s.)

The LAT story holds some other interesting tidbits:

“Night Vision” was one of eight temporary works contracted by the city’s Public Arts Advisory Board to spruce up the town for the Super Bowl in 1988. Because of delays in finding a site, “Night Vision” did not go up until February, after the Super Bowl. Although the other pieces were removed after the Super Bowl, “Night Vision” had staying power.

The artist, Roberto Salas, has his own photos of the piece, taken at night, on his website.

More from the Times’ 1989 article:

“My work is about the mobile society, the vehicle, everything the vehicle represents,” Salas said. “This is designed for someone driving along in a vehicle. The vehicle becomes the museum or the gallery.” The reflective vinyl allows drivers to have a passing encounter with the artworks even at night.

The underlying theme of the abstract road signs actually is the traffic cone, Salas said. “The cone is a motif I have been working on for almost 12 years now — its different aspects and forms.”

Please contact Kelly Bennett directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531 and follow her on Twitter: @kellyrbennett.

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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