Local View: New Art in Walnut Creek, Piedmont Birdcallers on ‘Letterman,’ and More

Each Friday, Pacific Union International takes a look at the people, places, and things we’re talking about in our Bay Area neighborhoods. Here’s what caught our eye this week:

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY

Colorful tiles await placement at the base of a fountain in downtown Walnut Creek.

One by one, thousands of ceramic and glass tiles have transformed the bland-looking base of a fountain in downtown Walnut Creek into a kaleidoscope of color. The mosaic took shape this week in front of the Wells Fargo Bank office on Main Street, the work of Wowhaus, an artistic team working out of  Oakland and Sonoma County. Wowhaus calls its creation “Geologic,” and it was paid with private donations and money from a city-sponsored program for public art installations. Next up for a mosaic facelift is another unadorned fountain, in front of Mechanics Bank on North Main Street.

ALAMEDA COUNTY
Continuing a cherished tradition, students from Piedmont High School appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman” Wednesday night, chirping and croaking and singing to their hearts’ content. The students are the latest winners in the school’s annual Leonard J. Waxdeck Bird Calling Contest. Piedmont students have been calling birds on late-night television for more than two decades, first on “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson” and then “Letterman.” True to form, Letterman on Wednesday poked good-natured fun at his guests and himself.  This year, the call of the American Coot earned the winners their title, and Letterman showed a picture of himself instead of the bird.

MARIN COUNTY
On Thursday, Mill Valley’s John Reynolds was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” for his work helping returning veterans find and keep jobs. The decorated Vietnam War veteran founded the nonprofit Veterans2Work in 2008. President Obama created the Champions of Change program as part of his “Winning the Future” initiative, which recognizes different sectors of the public for selflesss efforts.

A Japanese cherry tree was planted at Napa's City Hall.

WINE COUNTRY  (NAPA COUNTY & SONOMA COUNTY)
Both Napa and Sebastapol received ornamental cherry trees this week from the Japanese government. The treets commemorate Japan’s gift of 3,000 cherry trees 100 years ago that still stand along the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., but they’re also meant to say thanks for the generous efforts of U.S. communities that provided assistance after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan last year. Japan’s consul general in San Francisco, Hiroshi Inomata, took part in planting ceremonies in both Napa and Sebastapol.

SAN FRANCISCO
After 126 years, a North Beach institution closed its doors this week. Fior d’Italia, which claimed to be the oldest Italian restaurant in America, operated out of several North Beach locations during its lifetime, including a tent after the 1906 earthquake and fire. Some of Fior d’Italia’s partners hope to reopen the restaurant in the near future, but no solid plans have been announced yet.

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