'Subtile' Sculpture – West Sacramento, California - Atlas Obscura

'Subtile' Sculpture

A mesmerizing disco ball-like sculpture along the Sacramento River Walk. 


The Sacramento River Walk winds along the water, letting explorers meander down a trail studded with public art and prime views of the city. But among these many sights, nothing catches the eye quite like “Subtile.”

Installed in the fall of 2017, Subtile is a mesmerizing sculpture. It both reflects and becomes part of the landscape, highlighting its intricate relationship between art and nature.

At a staggering 26 feet long, 14 feet high, and six feet wide, the sculpture would be nearly impossible to miss even if it didn’t shine like a huge, wonky disco ball. The whole piece is covered in 34,000 mirrors, which shimmer in the sun and flutter and clink in the breeze. At first glance, the dazzling hunk of metal slightly resembles a cluster of trees, though the longer you look at it, its edges blur like a cloud being swept across the sky until the structure seems to lose all shape.

Subtile is but one part of the city’s plan to bring public art to neighborhoods with low-income housing. Czech artist Federico Díaz is the mastermind behind the captivating work. He used new media technology to create an algorithm that would mimic the growth of trees, making the mirror-covered sculpture a reflection of the landscape in more ways than meet the eye. 

Atlas Obscura Trips

City of Secrets: Underground in Los Angeles

On this an insider’s journey into the City of Angeles, we'll discover the murals and art of the famous Arts district with a resident artist, clink glasses at an underground speakeasy, and hike through hidden ruins with a suspicious past, all in pursuit of the less angelic side of the City of Angels.