It’s getting to the time of year when family and friends visit, and we’re often blessed with beautiful weather. You can stay inside and watch football, but if you’re in or near Sebastopol you owe it to your guests and yourself to take the Florence Avenue walking tour.
Florence Avenue runs between Highway 116 and Bodega Avenue, also known as Highway 12, which runs east-west through town. Originally an ordinary residential street with a couple of nice Victorians on it, Florence began to mutate when found-object sculptor Patrick Amiot moved there. In a very short period of time, nearly everyone on the street had at least one Amiot sculpture in their yard. The neighbors take this pretty seriously; about ninety percent of them are lit at night. It is whimsical, fun, and I can pretty much guarantee that it’s not the kind of thing you find in every small town.
The best way to see the works is to walk. It’s a short street. It’s also narrow, with parallel parking on both sides, which makes driving at best tricky and at worst helllish. It is the only drawback to the neighborhood. I recommend parking in the North High Street lot, next to the library and directly behind Copperfield’s Books, and walking up to Florence. The lot offers two-hour parking. Out of the parking lot, turn left on North High Street. Turn right on Bodega Ave and walk up to the next right turn. You will see the First Church of Christ, Scientist on the corner and Ceres Community Project (with an Amiot honeybee sculpture) directly across the street. For science fiction fans, the house on the corner of Florence and Bodega has a TARDIS in its yard.
Turn onto Florence and dig out your cameras and phones, because the statues start immediately.
These photos represent a sampler. You can see Amiot’s work throughout town, often commissioned by businesses. You can also buy an annual Amiot calendar at most stores in town (I know Fiesta Market carries them) but there is something to be said for seeing them in their three-dimensional glory.
I know I don’t have to say this, but I will. These figures are in the yards of people’s homes; regular people. You can get great photos from the sidewalk and street. Be courteous and respectful. And Enjoy!