Panel to deliver Port Townsend sculpture pick Wednesday
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Charlie Bermant (5)/Peninsula Daily News
Proposals from, top row from left, Margie McDonald and Charles Wiggins, and Alexandra Morosco; and, bottom row from left, Stuart Nakamura, Jessica Randall and Carapace Arts.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — One of five sculptures will be selected this week as a piece of public art to be placed in the uptown shopping district.

The five were submitted to the program and were the subject of a public comment period that closed last Wednesday.

The Arts Commission Artists Selection Panel Subcommittee will announce Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the first-floor conference room at City Hall, 250 Madison St., its recommendation for the winning proposal.

The selection panel consists of members of the arts commission, residents of the uptown district and city officials, who will whittle down the applicants and announce a preference.

On Thursday at 3 p.m. in the third-floor conference room, the Arts Commission will consider acting on the recommendation of the subcommittee.

Arts Commission member Dan Groussman, who is also on the selection panel, could not predict whether the full commission would accept the subcommittee's recommendation or push for a different alternative.

Public comments will be considered during the process, although “this is not a democratic vote; we aren't just tabulating the preferences,” Groussman said.

The sculpture is the first public art installation in Port Townsend since Gerard Tsutakawa's “Salish Sea Circle” was installed in May 2011.

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

The city's $20,000 grant to the selected artist represents 1 percent of the $2 million in capital projects spent in 2012, which Development Services Director Rick Sepler calls a “small amount” that does not take away from any city projects.

The five proposals, and some of the comments, are as follows:

— 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 9-foot structure would create a pedestrian walkthrough that would be interactive and allow people to explore it.

Arts Commission member Linda Okazaki said this sculpture “is my first choice — (it is) well thought out with ceremonial arch, maritime materials
. . . and architectural references.”

Vanessa Ridgeway disagreed. She stated that “this piece is 'industrial' and does not reflect Port Townsend,” adding that “it would be an eyesore in the location proposed by the artists.”

— Jessica Randall of Port Townsend proposes a series of four streetlamp sculptures with windows of colored glass that would splash color on the sidewalk.

An anonymous commenter called the design “inspired and so appropriate for Uptown. Their imagination will challenge citizens' imagination for generations.”

Another commenter said the design is “too unprofessional-looking, looks like Disneyland gnome land.”

— Carapace Arts of Walla Walla, including sculptors Sara Ybarra Lopez and Mark Stevenson, proposed “City of Sea Dreams,” a bronze sculpture that portays a boat ascending into the sky lifted by stars and a crescent moon.

Karen Starling called this “a very hopeful piece,” adding, “I like how this will look in the rain with the moon and the stars (on the sculpture) acting as a rain chain.”

Dianne Diamond “loved the dream aspect.”

Richard Berg wrote the piece was “sweet but it doesn't have enough power,” while Carla Main suggested that the base be removed and the boat size increased.

— “No Less the Trees and the Stars,” by Seattle sculptor Stuart S. Nakamura, is an abstract metal still life with several tall, sharp edges.

Diane Weets called the design “stately and alive,” while an anonymous comment called it “a superb proposal, and the concept is well thought out.”

Ron Robbins said the idea was “nice but doesn't have anything to do with Port Townsend,” while Rikki Ducornet called it “forgettable but somehow dangerous-looking. It made me think of public impalement.”

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

Kristen Berg said the design “has beauty and function in the design of the hook. The material relates to our beaches and industry.

Johanna King said, “This will have staying power. People will still like it 10 or 20 years from now.”

But an anonymous commenter said that “most people don't know what a pelican hook is,” while Okazaki dismissed it as “not an original artwork.”

Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or

Last modified: June 10. 2013 6:17PM
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