Sculptures Installed in Giuntoli Lane Roundabouts

Sculptor Bob Benson smiles like a proud papa in front of his newly-installed "River Steps" sculpture in the western Giuntoli Lane roundabout.

August 6, 2010

City of Arcata Installs “River Steps” Sculpture At Giuntoli Roundabout

The City of Arcata installed “River Steps,” a redwood sculpture by retired College of the Redwoods art professor Bob Benson, at the western roundabout on Giuntoli Lane last Friday. The City and Arts Arbor Arcata, a community ad hoc committee dedicated to bringing public art to the downtown and larger Arcata areas, collaborated to make the installation possible.

“River Steps” is carved from a 15-foot piece of old growth redwood stump from artist Benson’s property. “The roundabout is a busy place,” says Benson, “so I knew the piece had to be big enough to create its own beat.” The artist collaborated with Mark Early of the City’s Public Works Department to get the statue mounted in the roundabout.

Benson currently carves solid redwood step ladders for Native American plank houses. He says the grain of the redwood stump for “River Steps” looked like water, and he combined the rhythmic shapes of waves and steps in the sculpture he donated to the City.

“River Steps” is the second sculpture greeting drivers at the North end of the City. “Luna,” an aluminum statue by retired Humboldt State University art professor Mort Scott was installed in the eastern Giuntoli roundabout a few months ago.

“Years ago, Mort asked me why we didn’t have sculptures in downtown Arcata,” says Arts Arbor Arcata member Alex Stillman. “Sondra Schwetman, Mary Gearhart, Tina Rousselot, Bob Brown and I were already helping to get landscaping put in downtown. With a fortuitous matching grant we were able to start bringing art work by students and professors into our community.”

“River Steps” greets visitors and residents coming into Arcata from north of the City. The sculpture can also be safely seen by parking on Heindon Road near Quality Inn and walking toward the roundabout. Please remain on the sidewalk to the south of the roundabout for best viewing.

For more information on these and other public sculptures in Arcata, visit


"River Steps" by Bob Benson

Sculptor Bob Benson's Statement on "River Steps":
"Since I was a child I've carved the soft and true-grained old growth redwood with hand tools.  I am currently carving traditional Native American plank house ladders common to our area. I have also been painting waveforms for several years and making sculptures and paintings of stepped forms. In "River Steps" these forms are combined. These geometric patterns are both old and new. Their rhythmic energy calls to me. Creatively, they seem inexhaustible.

"Luna" by Mort Scott

Sculptor Mort Scott's Statement on "Luna":
"A few years ago a young woman sat in a large growth redwood tree trying to save it from being cut down. She called the tree LUNA. At this particular time in the Pacific Northwest, people were protesting against cutting down old growth groves of redwood trees. It was the commitment of these protestors that caught my interest and triggered me to create a sculpture that might reflect this effort.  When you look at my sculpture you will see that I recreated part of a tree and juxtaposed some upside down forms that are confusing, just as the issues we were trying to make sense of are confusing to us still. This sculpture is cast in aluminum and I hope it will withstand the elements and remind us to be strong in all our beliefs."