From bike wheel-centric pieces and gorgeous ArtBoxes to all manner of benches, both big wave and asymmetric, the footprint of the City of Mill Valley’s public art program has been expanding steadily in recent years, particularly on the heels of the “Knitting Us Together” project and the Black Lives Matter-styled utility box in 2020.

Now comes perhaps the most high-profile of the public art pieces in Mill Valley, as “Halley’s Comet,” a new outdoor art piece installed on March 18 outside the Mill Valley Community Center – exactly 40 years early from its predicted next perihelion on July 28, 2061  in the form of a bright red modern sculpture made by a world-famous local sculptor Aristides Dimetrios. 

The Mill Valley Arts Commission worked with Dimetrios to bring the piece to Mill Valley in the hopes that it would add interest and value to the community, as well as become a valuable teaching tool for budding artists and astronomers.

“The vision for our sculpture program is to enhance our community while offering an opportunity to gain understanding and awareness of the visual arts and enjoyment of the outdoors,” Arts Commission Chair Coleen Bryne said. “We feel this new sculpture will attract viewers and invite dialogue.”

Demetrious, 89, is a renowned sculptor with large installations all over the world, and locally at locations such as Stanford University and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. He has won numerous prizes and competitions and his artworks are sought out by investors and art lovers throughout the world. He shared that he became fascinated with the impending arrival of Halley’s Comet visiting in 1986, making this sculpture in his San Francisco studio as his tribute to the visitation which occurs only every 75-76 years.

The Arts Commission pursued the purchase of the sculpture from a local art dealer and gallery owner, successfully acquiring the piece in 2020 for $15,600 with donations from local organizations and individuals.

“We want to thank the many individuals and organizations that donated and contributed to this project to make the purchase and installation possible,” Arts Commissioner Sharon Valentino said. “We could not have done it without the generous contributions of the Outdoor Art Club and the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Enjoy Mill Valley Fund. We want to thank all of the donors who made this possible, including former Arts and Recreation Director Jenny Rogers for her diligent pursuit of this piece.”

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