Yellow hats landed…again

The renowned sculptor, Claes Oldenburg and his late wife, Coosje van Bruggen, created the sculpture: “Hat in Three Stages of Landing” decades ago for the grounds near the rodeo, but it had deteriorated over the years.

Oldenburg asked that the hats be restored or have them removed, and the city council opted to have them restored and so they were removed for a year. And today a celebration welcomed Oldenburg back to Salinas to greet the crowd and receive honors again for his work. The hats sit on the grounds next to the rodeo, but back a bit from Main Street.

They appear as though a giant cowboy threw his hat while galloping away on his horse and it took three stages to get on the ground.

I was part of the Arts Council of Monterey County’s  children’s art station, and where I spoke to people about volunteering for the two big events coming up in January.

Our booth was next to the Monterey Jazz Festival booth, where another volunteer coordinator was also asking for volunteers. He suggested that all volunteer coordinators should get together and pool our information. Not a bad idea.

So all this time I thought Oldenburg was Dutch as he has, what I thought was a Dutch name, and certainly his wife’s name was Dutch. So I searched him out and spoke to him. He seemed to understand a bit of what I said, but not entirely. I thought it was my bad pronunciation. But then I learned he isn’t Dutch but Swedish, but his wife was Dutch. He understands a little, from having a Dutch spouse, just as I did. We laughed about it, when he spoke back to me in perfect English.




“Hat in Three Stages of Landing” arrived in Salinas on Monday after being gone for nearly a year to be restored. The hats, which stand at different levels as if just tossed from the Salinas Sports Complex, are now painted a much brighter yellow than the original.

“Hat in Three Stages of Landing” was more than a monumental work by the world-renowned Oldenburg and his wife Coosje van Bruggen. It was a point of civic pride, a way to let the world know that Salinas was a place where art and culture thrived along with endless acres of lettuce and broccoli.

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