A new leaf: Downtown Port Townsend’s new Community Plaza, sculpture to be dedicated today
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Still in its wrappings, Seattle sculptor Gerard Tsutakawa’s “Salish Sea Circule” is lifted out of its crate at the redeveloped corner of Madison and Water streets in downtown Port Townsend on Thursday. The 8-foot bronze sculpture will be dedicated today at 1 p.m. -- Photo by Christina Pivarnik/City of Port Townsend

By Jeff Chew
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — A landmark weekend of celebration comes to downtown today and Sunday as city leaders dedicate and celebrate the new Civic District on Water Street from Quincy to Monroe streets.

Mayor Michelle Sandoval today will cut the ribbon to dedicate the new Community Plaza and renovated Pope Marine Park.

The event will begin at 1 p.m.

New public art “Salish Sea Circle,” created by accomplished Seattle sculptor Gerard Tsutakawa, also will be dedicated at the bricked plaza.

The piece was installed and covered Thursday morning for the official unveiling at the plaza today.

Jeromy Sullivan, Port Gamble S’Klallam tribal chairman, will join the dedication as part of the presentation, with singing, dancing and drumming provided by the S’Klallam Singers and Youth Royalty.

The “Salish Sea Circle” artwork represents a continuum of people past, present and future while celebrating the waters surrounding Port Townsend and beyond.

“It’s a fabulous addition to our downtown,” Sandoval said.

“I am just so excited to have the artist here, along with his work.”

“Salish Sea Circle” was commissioned by the city of Port Townsend through the Port Townsend Arts Commission in 2010 after the City Council approved a public arts policy.

It cost $70,000 and was funded through the city’s One Percent for Arts Program, which allocates 1 percent of the capitalized costs of eligible public construction projects for public art, and a 2008 city bond.

“There is a sense of dynamic energy in the undulating curves of the sculpture that captures a lot about what makes Port Townsend unique and what ties it to the rich maritime fabric of the region,” said Kris Morris, city arts commission member.

“Although some circles are simply closed curves, the ‘Salish Sea Circle’ seems to act as a unifying force, reaching out and inviting a gathering of peoples, water, culture and community.”

Tsutakawa’s works include the baseball-glove sculpture at Safeco Field in Seattle.

The 8-foot-tall “Salish Sea Circle” is composed of 800 pounds of silicon bronze.

Other downtown sidewalk and infrastructure work in the $5.1 million Civic District project included a $224,000 renovation of the Pope Marine Park, a $2 million Water Street streetscape and $678,000 in Madison Street improvements.

The plaza is adjacent to the remodeled historic Cotton Building, a former historic mercantile building that last housed the city police department.

The Cotton Building at 607 Water St. will be given new life as a visitor information center and was dedicated April 30 after a $1,415,000 seismic retrofit and restoration.

Future downtown work to be done includes removal of the Tidal Bowl and adding streetscape to the area surrounding the wave viewing gallery, which was moved farther ashore.

“We are just taking a breather now,” Sandoval said of the Civic District, adding that the next phase of work should commence in the fall.

Christina Pivarnik, city marketing director, said she was thrilled to see the completion of the improvements, which she called a draw to the other end of town that should benefit downtown merchants as a visitor magnet.

“We now have a walkable downtown, from the ferry terminal to Point Hudson,” she said.

Sandoval noted that the dedication is only two days after the newest ferry to be added to the Port Townsend-Coupville route was delivered to Washington State Ferries by builder Todd Pacific Shipyards on Thursday.

The 64-car MV Salish ferry is expected to join the now-operating MV Chetzemoka on the Port Townsend-Coupeville Admiralty Inlet route in July — which will be the first two-ferry service on the route since state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond pulled the 80-year-old Steel Electric ferries off the run in November 2007, citing corroded hulls and declaring them unsafe.

The two Kwa-di Tabil Class ferries are the state’s first new ferries since 1999.

Dedication ceremonies will be surrounded by the 33rd annual Rhody Arts & Crafts Fair, which will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. both today and Sunday on Madison Street.

Also today, a variety of family activities, coordinated by the Port Townsend Main Street Program, are planned.

At 2 p.m., “This Place Matters,” a video portrait shoot, is planned in front of the newly renovated Cotton Building to highlight National Preservation Month by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Port Townsend is one of the cities in Washington to be highlighted in video for this campaign of the trust.

Also from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. are these activities:

■ Port Townsend photographer David Conklin will take pictures of families in front of the new “Salish Sea Circle” sculpture for a nominal fee, assisted by Linda Townsend.

■ Children’s art activities, which will include kite-making led by Lisa Doray and Karen Gale.

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center will coordinate marine-related crafts making barnacle puppets and decorating decorator crabs.

All Civic District activities are free to the public.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at jeff.chew@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 13. 2011 12:27AM
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