Towering waterfall mural installed at UC Davis Medical Center

Five-day installation of 544-square-foot tile mural
Artist Yoshio Taylor describes his vision for the mural
Art curator Susan Willoughby discusses the collection

The crown jewel in UC Davis Medical Center’s Surgery and Emergency Services Pavilion has been installed, piece by hand-made piece, in the hospital’s new main lobby.

Reaching three stories high, the 32-foot tile mural of a waterfall amid mythical fauna and medicinal plant life now greets hundreds of visitors to the hospital each day.

Created by Sacramento artist and art instructor Yoshio Taylor, the mural, entitled “Resurgence,” represents one of the most significant pieces ever commissioned by the health system, and is the largest project ever for Taylor, whose most recent public art project was a 32-foot bronze clock tower for the Sacramento Arts Commission at Arden Way and Del Paso Boulevard.

The installation took a professional tile setter and his assistant five days, as each of the hand-carved, glazed and fired tiles was mounted on the wall. The waterfall project consumed 9,000 pounds of clay for the creation of 500 square tiles that weigh eight to 10 pounds apiece. Taylor spent 18 months on the project.

Throughout the installation, onlookers marveled at the scope and breadth of the artwork, and chatted with Taylor about his vision for the piece and the complex process of creating and executing the work.

In addition to Taylor’s tile mural, the new 472,000-square-foot pavilion includes nearly 150 pieces of work by a wide spectrum of artists, most of them from the Sacramento region. Throughout the building’s corridors and waiting rooms are paintings, photographs, prints and mixed-media pieces by more than 40 different artists, including Stan Padilla, Armando Cid, Donna Billick and Maija Peeples-Bright.

“Everything in the collection was produced in the territory served by UC Davis Medical Center,” said collection curator Susan Willoughby. “And the diversity among our artists and their work reflects the diversity of the community we serve.”

Taylor, an art instructor at Cosumnes River College, said he came up with the waterfall concept while thinking about the building as a sometimes-chaotic place for people in need of care and their loved ones.

“I wanted an image that would soothe the people, calm people down and at the same time project a positive image,” he said. “In most cultures, water is a healing type of thing. And a waterfall is pretty dynamic and soothing.”

Because he was creating the piece for a health-care setting, Taylor decided to incorporate depictions of herbs and medicinal plants such Echinacea and dandelion. The piece also includes hidden images of fish and other figures.

Taylor, who holds a master of fine arts degree from UC Berkeley, has held major exhibitions at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara, the Dorothy Weiss Gallery at the San Francisco Crafts and Folk Art Museum, and The Society for Contemporary Crafts in Pittsburgh, Penn.

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