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One of Castro Valley’s biggest controversies was the 14 1/2 foot tall art sculpture placed on a divider along Redwood road for two months in 1997. The steel and aluminum art piece cost Alameda County $106,000 and was created by Washington artist Sheila Klein. The green-yellow and orange piece that featured a canoe was designed to celebrate the history of the Ohlone Indians in our town. Once installed, the canoe was not met with open arms by the community. More than 500 people attended a meeting about the art at Castro Valley High School, with many decrying the artwork as “tacky” and simply not fitting the character of Castro Valley. Shortly thereafter it was removed and relocated (rent-free) to a county repair garage in Dublin near Santa Rita Jail. Because it is public art, it cannot be destroyed or altered. In 2010, a Castro Valley resident floated a few concepts having the canoe return to the median strip near Lake Chabot or another less conspicuous location in town, but the Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Council politely panned the idea.

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