SOMA sculpture arrives in Vallejo

Two blocks of Georgia Street — known as commercial and activity dead-zones — should benefit from a new Vallejo resident who is expected to bring more people downtown.

Her name is SOMA.

A crew of volunteers, more akin to a bee hive, have been working over the past week to install the 28-foot tall sculpture near the John F. Kennedy Library in Unity Plaza.

SOMA occupies a space of about 40 feet by 25 feet wide, and is a representation of two neurons connected by an axon bridge. She was built for the 2009 Burning Man event by the Flaming Lotus Girls, a San Francisco-based volunteer art collective.

SOMA was recently on display at Pier 14 in San Francisco, and will remain in Vallejo over the next two years.

“I am very excited she is here,” said local resident Caroline Miller, who is a member of the Flaming Lotus Girls. “We have been talking about this for a long time and to see it actually happen is amazing!”

The sculpture requires 32 anchor bolts for stability and has 70 custom LED lights for night illumination.

Visitors to SOMA will be able to interact with the sculpture by pressing several buttons which manipulate the lights, Miller added.

“We also want to make it a community space where people can gather,” she said.

Miller had plenty thanks to give regarding those who helped bring SOMA to Vallejo. She noted the support of her partner Josh Hunter, city council, city staff and businessman Dennis Brinson for providing space to store storage prior to installation.

Vallejo Councilwoman Katy Miessner also helped spearhead the effort to bring SOMA to Vallejo.

“The sculpture is not only great artwork, and interactive — people are going to really enjoy it — it’s also a huge benefit for the revitalization and redevelopment of our waterfront and downtown,” she said. “Having SOMA will attract a lot of folks, there has already been much excitement from folks watching it installed.

With the expected demolition of the nearby post office, the area — already a dead-zone — will also become a construction zone for a while, Miessner added.

“SOMA will create a visual bridge between our downtown and our waterfront as we see the arts and business activity increase in each area,” she said. “SOMA will help seize that energy and tie it together for the benefit of all.”

The group is expected to perform quarterly maintenance, and immediately address acts of vandalism, according to city staff.

Fundraising to help maintain the art piece is currently underway, Miller said. It is anticipated that Monday individuals will be able to visit SOMA, with a lighting ceremony scheduled to take place in a few weeks, Miller added.

Contact John Glidden at 707-553-6832.