“Valley of Light” Installation by Allan Hancock College Professor

Seven tree-like sculptures topped with petals that popped up near a Santa Maria corner might look like a tool to talk to space aliens. In reality, for those who are in the dark, it’s Santa Maria’s newest public art project, called “Valley of Light” and designed by local artist Nancy Jo Ward, a design professor at Allan Hancock College.

The artwork, with the petals lighting up at night, was installed in October at the western edge of Santa Barbara County’s Betteravia Government Center along South Miller Street, south of Betteravia Road.  Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said the new addition has generated questions from at least one constituent — his dad, retired Santa Maria Mayor Larry Lavagnino.

The project is a permanent addition to the landscape and involves a partnership between the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts & Culture, Hancock College and the City of Santa Maria.

Honoring the Santa Maria Valley’s agricultural past and present, “Valley of Light” comprises seven tree-like structures with branches punctuated with brightly colored, translucent acrylic leaves.

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