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October "Tarantula Fest"


The 'Tarantula' art piece on the facade of the new parking structure at the Fourth Street entrance in Morgan Hill, Calif., has a body composed of hundreds of illuminated vintage-style headlights; the eight legs, which measure about 12' across, are vibrant red powder-coated waterjet-cut aluminum.
Image and art by Gordon Huether Studio

Morgan Hill, Calif. (pop. 37,882) is a city 24 miles south of downtown San Jose, which we all know the way to, and 15 miles north of Gilroy. The city has approved over a dozen "placemaking" and art projects, ranging from murals and sculptures to street furniture, decorative sidewalks and tree lighting.

"Our goal is to enliven public spaces with visual art, and promote arts and culture, making downtown the community's playground," explained Morgan Hill Mayor Steve Tate. These efforts are part of the Downtown Placemaking Investment Strategy in which the city has invested $25 million of former RDA bond monies for downtown improvements, including two parks, a public plaza, a trail, a new parking garage and other infrastructure projects.

In building a new 273-space parking garage for the Third Street Plaza, the city decided to add two art installations. The city's art budget for the parking garage was $425,000, which is reported to be the largest art investment in Morgan Hill's history. The art design team that won the commissions was Gordon Huether Studio (, which teamed with F+H construction and WMB architects.


The stairwell of the new parking garage in Morgan Hill, Calif., that faces Third Street Plaza is enclosed by 26' tall by 19' wide translucent art glass. The installation, called 'Poppy Jasper', depicts the vibrant reds, oranges and yellows of jaspers, the local gemstone.
Image and art by Gordon Huether Studio

'Poppy Jasper' is an art glass enclosure for the parking structure's stairwell that faces the Third Street Plaza. The Morgan Hill area is known for its jasper gemstones (a microgranular quartz), so the idea was to depict their colorful reds, oranges and yellow hues in the glass, and light it from the inside to create a lantern effect.

The second piece of art is an aluminum legged "tarantula" with a body made up of vintage headlights. When the renderings of the proposed 'Tarantula' were released, it created quite a lively conversation. A large hairless arachnid might seem an odd choice, but there is an annual October "Tarantula Fest" at Henry W. Coe State Park east of Morgan Hill. The "creepy" event, what must be an avoid-at-all-costs outing for arachnophobes, "celebrates" the large harry spiders leaving their wilderness lairs in the fall in search of mates. The event includes a barbecue, music and spider petting (apparently no spider eating); reptiles and other wildlife are also on view.

Artist Gordon Huether founded his studio in Napa, Calif., in 1987. He works extensively with glass and salvaged materials. Huether has completed over 60 public art projects and more than 160 private art commissions. In 2015, the Gordon Huether team was selected to work with the Salt Lake City Department of Airports and HOK. The new Salt Lake City International Airport terminal project is one of the largest construction projects in the U.S., and will showcase Huether's art throughout the new terminal.

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November 13, 2019, 7:16 pm PDT

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