“Found Object” Sculptures Add to Nonprofit’s Environmental Vision

Because of Woodland’s emphasis on the environment, former mayor Tom Stallard led the drive for the award that was given on the city’s climate action plan—increasing the tree canopy and supporting zero-net energy homes such as Mutual Housing at Spring Lake.

Made of “found objects,” Steve Cook’s metal sculptures at affordable housing developer Mutual Housing California add to the nonprofit’s vision of environmental sustainability.  

“Marsh Madness” recently was created for Mutual Housing at Spring Lake in Woodland, Calif. to mirror the wildlife near the marshes in the area. The 8½-foot tall egret and smaller critters surrounding it was chosen by Mutual Housing’s project manager Vanessa Guerra. 

A farm worker’s daughter who grew in the area, Guerra inspired by the sub-division’s name:  Spring Lake.  

“I wanted creatures like a turtle, frog, dragonflies and cattails because you would typically see them near a lake and they reminded me of the marshes throughout Yolo County,” said Guerra.

Like Cook’s other art—which can be seen at New Harmony Mutual Housing Community in Davis and Mutual Housing at The Highlands in Sacramento—the sculptures are made from cast-aside tools and parts.

The egret is a motorcycle tank, an exhaust pipe off a car, hand shovels, a pair of nail trimmers that a farrier would use and rebar. The other critters in the art work are created from metal spatulas, garden cultivators, motorcycle chains, springs, railroad spikes, plumbing pipes, metal strips and a hammer.

Cook found his calling bailing hay in the local area. Where others saw useless junk in rusted objects abandoned in fields, he saw potential art. Cook wasn’t thinking of saving the environment at the time, but that has become an important aspect of his work.   

“Cook successfully re-uses objects that would go to a landfill otherwise,” said Rachel Iskow, Mutual Housing’s chief executive officer.

Today, Cook has sculptures in museums and private homes from California to New York, plus Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Florida. He also has a big fan in Iskow, who has been commissioning sculptures since she first saw his  work.

“Gertie,” a 9½-foot giraffe, is a cheerful presence in the courtyard of Sacramento’s Mutual Housing at The Highlands.

At New Harmony Mutual Housing Community in Davis, Calif., a mother elephant and baby are made of gas-tank heads, digging-pick tusks, shovel ears and air compressor-tank bodies. The two grace the stand at the hob of the community while five metal “people” add a whimsy to the garden. 

The Mutual Housing at Spring Lake sculpture was partially funded by a grant from the Mayors Climate Protection Award.

Because of Woodland’s emphasis on the environment, former mayor Tom Stallard led the drive for the award that was given on the city’s climate action plan—increasing the tree canopy and supporting zero-net energy homes such as Mutual Housing at Spring Lake. 

“We really appreciate councilmember Stallard’s effort to secure this grant,” said Iskow. “For the city council to pass a portion to Mutual Housing for a beautiful art piece that reflects our sustainability goals is perfect.” 

Founded in 1988, Mutual Housing California develops, operates and advocates for sustainable rental housing for the diversity of the region’s households.

A member of NeighborWorks America—a congressionally chartered nonprofit organization that supports community development nationwide—Mutual Housing has more than 3,000 residents, nearly half of whom are children.      

Through its focus on community, the nonprofit also provides training and mentoring as well as educational programs, leadership-building activities and services for residents and neighbors.

For information, visit www.mutualhousing.com.

To see more Steve Cook sculptures, go to http://stevecooksculpture.com/

Download Center

  • Your Guide to Environmental Metrics that Drive Performance

    Translating sustainability into action starts with implementing the right metrics to assess your environmental risk and performance. Learn how to design metrics that improve your decision-making process and drive enterprise performance.

  • Unpacking ESG: 6 Questions You Were Too Afraid to Ask

    Environmental and Sustainability experts from Arcadis and Cority answer 6 of the most pressing questions EHS professionals have about getting started with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting.

  • 5 Keys to Best-in-Class Chemical Management

    Running a safe chemical program is challenging and complex: from knowing what's on-site to proper handling and disposal - all while navigating regulatory changes. Learn the best ways to mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management solution.

  • Streamline Your Air Emissions Management

    See how consolidating all your emissions management functions into one centralized system can help you streamline your operations, more easily maintain compliance, and achieve greater time and cost savings.

  • A Crash Course in Creating the Right Environmental Scoring System

    Learn how to develop the right environmental scoring system so you can easily benchmark performance across all your facilities and gain a holistic view of your environmental programs.

  • Industry Safe