Lake Tahoe as muse: Public art comes to North Shore |

Lake Tahoe as muse: Public art comes to North Shore

Current public art in Kings Beach includes a Peter Hazel mosaic trout sculpture near Lanza’s restaurant.
Courtesy Marguerite Sprague |

Lake Tahoe has long inspired creative endeavors, from petroglyphs to books to paintings.

Tahoe’s north shore communities are beautiful places with individual flavors. Soon these individual flavors — and the lake — will be celebrated through public art across the north shore, starting in Kings Beach.

The North Tahoe Business Association (NTBA) and North Tahoe Arts (NTA) are thrilled to announce the creation of the Tahoe Public Arts Program (TPA), an exciting new collaboration to establish public art across the north shore. Sara Smith, a Kings Beach-based artist and community volunteer was the original inspiration.

“It occurred to me that the best time to install infrastructure to support Public Art … sculptural footings, irrigation, electrical for lighting, etc. … would be when the (Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project) project was underway,” she said.

“Politicians don’t bring people together. Artists do.”
Richard Daley
Former Mayor of Chicago

For the next two years, the NTBA Design Committee fleshed out the details. According to Smith, “It was really when Joy (Doyle) came on and took ownership of moving the idea forward and then Steve Miller … brought his expertise and hard work, that the idea actually started getting traction and emerging from thought and wish to nuts and bolts and affiliations.”

NTBA board member Steve Miller felt the passion of the endeavor and jumped in with both feet, working with Placer County to provide for public art in the new Kings Beach roundabouts. “Steve’s expertise in structural organization and hard work with creating something that can move into the future has been invaluable,” said Smith. But that was just the start.


After two years of planning and negotiating with agencies and organizations, the NTBA Design Committee decided to find a collaborative partner that could help build this project into an ongoing north shore program following the Phase One Kings Beach project.

The committee found that partner in NTA. The two entities forged an MOU to formalize their collaboration, then together hired Program Coordinator Marguerite Sprague and a fundraising contract with Theresa May Duggan.

Locals Sprague and Duggan hit the ground running, working to ensure a strong foundation for the program. They are one voice in describing the TPA program goals: “The goal of Tahoe Public Art is to promote art that is environmentally sound, visually stunning, inviting, inclusive, interactive and uses locally-sourced materials when possible.

The art may include new ways to look at everyday object s— our street lights, our bike racks and street seating — but it will always reflect the place we are.”

“I see the Tahoe Public Art program being a catalyst in providing a better sense of community … it is my goal to involve the schools, Boys & Girls Club and other community entities to provide art education to the youth around Lake Tahoe,” said Miller. “Art and art education for the youth is critical in this day and age … I also see the TPA as a driver for diversifying tourism … people will stop to view the art even if they are just passing through.”


The program will feature both permanent and temporary art installations and will debut Aug. 22 with the temporary installation, “DETOURS Kings Beach,” facilitated by Smith and local artist Jane Jenney. DETOURS will run through September 2014.

Then, TPA will focus on the Phase One project in Kings Beach while working with the Tahoe City Downtown Association to determine possibilities there.

NTA hopes to expand the effort to all north and west shore communities. As Miller puts it, “Hopefully TPA can help tear down the fences or walls between Kings Beach, Tahoe City and other communities and provide something that all communities of North Lake Tahoe share together.”

To be part of this awesome new program contact the NTA at 530-581-2787 or NTBA at 530-546-9000. Also visit or visit

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