“Watershed” created by Oakland artist Peter Richards, is an environmental artwork integrating its conceptual and philosophical underpinnings with its functional role at the San José Environmental Innovation Center. On a plot on the NW side of the new Household Hazardous Waste Facility (HHW), a 6,600 gallon water storage tank collects and stores rainwater captured from the Environmental Innovation Building. This water is used to irrigate a grove of recently transplanted 100 year-old olive trees, grape vines, and star jasmine.
The artwork is a sculptural assemblage installed adjacent to the HHW, and is composed of integrated elements that relate to a fundamental of human existence: gathering and storing energy. With emphasis on the aesthetic qualities of food – through the incorporation of beautiful historic olive trees, and water – with the creation of the water feature based on an historic “flip-flop flume”, these elements are employed as metaphors for basic needs.
The adjacent “watershed” is constructed of materials salvaged from the demolition of a former onsite building and materials no longer used in the main building. This structure houses a metering device for distributing water between two basins constructed from oblong stock tanks. This tableau of a beautiful and romantic garden system offset by the mechanical workings of the watershed also includes a viewing window into the HHW Building revealing the workings of a receiving plant, which processes, packages and ships household hazardous wastes.
Gizmo Art Production Inc, was selected to develop the concept into a working model and then to fabricate and install the finished product. The overall concept and design evolved as the project was integrated with the new San Jose Environmental Innovation Center through the the leadership of the San Jose's Office of Cultural Affairs.