Five artists to present plans for public artwork in Port Townsend

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Five finalists vying for $20,000 and the opportunity to create a piece of public art in the uptown neighborhood will answer community questions about their proposals today.

City officials will award a $20,000 grant to the selected artist to make a unique piece of artwork that reflects the neighborhood and the town, Development Services Director Rick Sepler said.

“This is an artistic community that is responsive to public art,” Sepler said.

“We are looking to install something that symbolizes this.”

The finalists will present their concepts to the city Arts Commission from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cotton Building, 607 Water St.

That will be followed by a public viewing of the proposals from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

At 6 p.m., each finalist will make a short presentation and answer questions from the public.

“It’s good that the artists will make a presentation and talk about what they are trying to get across,” said Erin Fristad, Arts Commission member.

“Sometimes you can’t tell just by looking at a piece.”

After today’s presentations, the proposals will be on display at City Hall, 250 Madison St., until next Wednesday, June 5.

Public comment will be taken during that time.

The artist selection panel will meet from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. June 12 at City Hall to select the winning proposal, with the final recommendation submitted to the city Arts Commission, which is scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. June 13 to announce the selected artist.

The finalists were selected from 17 artists who responded to a call for proposals earlier this year.

The city’s grant to the selected artist represents 1 percent of the $2 million in capital projects spent in 2012, a “small amount,” Sepler said, emphasizing that the grant does not take away from any city projects.

Finalists were given a map of the uptown area and asked to design a project that would fit in that space; they were not given any restrictions as to size or media.

The sculpture is expected to have a different flavor than the last piece of public art installed in Port Townsend, 2011’s “Salish Sea Circle,” an 8-foot-tall bronze work by Seattle artist Gerard Tsutakawa that has become a downtown tourist attraction.

“We wanted it to reflect the funky character of uptown,” Fristad said.

“We needed it to be durable in the rain, easily maintained and safe for children.”

Another requirement was that it have a tactile component.

“People love to touch the ‘Salish Sea Circle,’” Sepler said.

“People drive from miles around to sit in the middle of the sculpture and have their picture taken.”

The five finalists and their proposals are:

■   Margie McDonald and Charles Wiggins of Port Townsend have proposed the construction of an archway at the northwest corner of Tyler and Clay streets that would reflect historical elements of local buildings.

The structure would create a pedestrian walkthrough that would be interactive and allow exploration of the 9-foot-tall structure, according to the proposal.

“Our working concept will be the metaphor of the ‘portal,’ a window, a passage, a doorway between the Uptown and the downtown between past, present and future,” the proposal said.

■   Jessica Randall of Port Townsend has proposed a series of four streetlamp sculptures that would be designed to reflect the uptown neighborhood, according to the proposal.

The sculptures would not be wired. Each would contain a space where an illuminating candle can be placed during special occasions, with windows of colored glass that would splash color on the sidewalk, the proposal said.

■   Carapace Arts of Walla Walla, including sculptors Sara Ybarra Lopez and Mark Stevenson, has proposed “City of Sea Dreams.”

The bronze sculpture would portray a boat ascending into the sky lifted by stars and a crescent moon, according to the submitted proposal.

It also would include an octopus and a skeleton key, which the proposal described as “a discovery to share” between children and adults.

■ “No Less the Trees and the Stars,” by Seattle sculptor Stuart S. Nakamura, would try to define the spirit and character of uptown Port Townsend in an enduring way, according to the proposal.

“While the impact of the artwork is meant to be read from a moderate distance, the viewer will encounter his/her reflection in the semi-polished raindrops on the leaves, tying the individual to the community and vice versa,” the proposal reads.

“This unfolding of the plant form is, in its microcosm, symbolic of our awareness of the unfolding of the universe as we grow and develop.”

■   Alexandra Morosco of Whidbey Island has proposed “The Pelican Hook,” a 7-foot granite structure topped by a free-standing brass ring.

“The beauty of granite is that it won’t deteriorate,” Morosco wrote. “It may oxidize a bit with our acid rain and natural elements of sea and salt air and perpetual rain.

“Nothing is impervious to time and elements, but granite is the closest we can get.”

A form for public comment is at http://tinyurl.com/nrfq53t or at City Hall, 250 Madison St.

Completed forms are due by 4 p.m. June 5 at City Hall. Comments can be emailed to sfoster@cityofpt.us.

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Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 28. 2013 6:12PM
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