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In the stars: a look into “ESTRELLA” artist Roger Berry

It was almost as if Roger Berry’s career as a sculptor was written in the stars. At a young age, Berry knew that he loved to build.

“At the age of five, I fell in love with soapbox racing, especially building the soapbox cars,”

- Roger Berry during an interview sitting at a café in front of his newly installed “ETRELLA” art installation in Kings Beach.

“At a very young age, I fell in love with the process, the overall aesthetics of what was being created, and the functionality of creating something from nothing.”

This love followed Berry into his college years when he turned his passion to build toward building art. While becoming an architect seemed like a clear path for Berry, he decided to go with his passion for creating sculptures.

He started his professional career in the 1980s and built out of a warehouse in San Francisco. He then decided in the early 1990’s to move his family out to Clarksburg, where he found his second love: farming vineyards.

“Ironically, growing grapes made me a better artist,” said Berry. “The patience that you need to tend to the land, the solitary aggravation of growing the harvest, all translates into the patience you need to be a good artist.”

While Berry is no stranger to creating art for public entities Berry was first approached by the Tahoe Public Arts in 2014 to participate in the Kings Beach competition for their new roundabouts.

Funded by the county transient occupancy tax, seeking artwork in King Beach’s roundabouts is part of the major investment Placer County made through the Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project. Two final pieces were selected from a field of five proposals narrowed down from the initial 38 submissions through two review panels and a community viewing and balloting process, which received approximately 435 votes.

“It was an exciting opportunity to me, because Lake Tahoe is so near to my heart,” said Berry. “I used to come up to Lake Tahoe with my family as a child, and some of my fondest memories are here.”
Photo by Roger Berry

It was only natural for Berry to join the competition to create more beauty for the place that had enriched his life so much as a child. Once his proposal was selected, Berry threw his all into the process, from having his work being approved by overseeing engineers to speaking to the Placer County Board of Supervisors in April. As he built the piece, Berry kept the Kings Beach location in his mind as the piece came together.

Photo by Roger Berry

Berry reflected on his time spent in Lake Tahoe; specifically his childhood memories of gazing at the stars in Lake Tahoe’s night sky.

He then realized that from any angle viewers will always be able to enjoy the Lake Tahoe stars through the installation, just as he had as a child. This inspired the piece’s name “ESTRELLA,” which is Spanish for "star."

After four years of hard work, “ESTRELLA” was installed in Kings Beach the evening of Nov. 12 for the community to enjoy.

A formal ribbon-cutting event is scheduled for spring of 2019 after the second of two planned pieces is installed. Berry was present during the installation. He also drove out the next day to observe his hard work in its new home.

Installation photos by Marguerite Sprague
“This is the community’s sculpture,” Berry said. “This installation continued to surprise me because it truly evolved during the creation of the piece. I hope people will find surprises of their own when they enjoy the installation for themselves. I made "ESTRELLA" to become part of the community and for the community to enjoy for years to come.”

If you are interested in viewing “ESTRELLA,” the installation is located in Kings Beach at the roundabout intersection of State Route 28 and Bear Street.

Watch an interview with sculptor Roger Berry here:

Story produced by

Placer County Communications and Public Affairs

Author: Stephanie Herrera

Photography: Erik Bergen

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Created By
Stephanie Herrera
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