PORT ANGELES — Sometimes art has to make way for progress.
Numerous sculptures that grace the streets and storefronts in downtown Port Angeles are being relocated to accommodate major construction projects that are proposed or underway.
Several are in storage or on display in temporary locations.
Bob Stokes, president of the Port Angeles Arts Council, said that, to date, seven sculptures have been moved or are planned for relocation.
On Tuesday, “The Long Journey” by Port Angeles sculptor Gray Lucier, was hoisted from its long-standing location at Front and Oak streets and placed on a trailer for restoration and eventual relocation.
The site will soon be home to the Field Arts & Events Center, currently in the first stages of construction and the artwork needed to be removed.
Lucier watched as crews lifted the 500-pound sculpture and lowered it onto a trailer for removal.
He seemed unperturbed about the move.
“It’s an emotional piece — I’m glad to see it moved and they did a wonderful job moving it,” Lucier said. “I can’t wait to see it refurbished and back out on the streets.”
Other art works recently were taken from the site of a future luxury hotel to be built by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe near Front and Laurel streets.
A tile mosaic “Olympics to Sea” made by children of the former Bo Baggins Daycare was removed from an exterior wall of the now-demolished Necessities, and Temptations, and Stoke’s sculpture “Robert” was moved from the site of the razed Harbor Arts and is temporarily displayed in front of Stoke’s Studio Bob in the 100 block of East Front Street.
“Gandy Dancer,” a railroad-themed piece by artist Jim Mattern, is now at its final location near the bus lanes at The Gateway transit center after two previous moves, first from the 100 block of West Railroad Avenue — now the Esplanade waterfront walk — and later from the nearby property that once housed Dairy Queen.
A multi-piece installation titled “Gawker,” “Stork,” “Frog,” “Woodpecker” and “Bunting” by Harold Egerton were moved from the entrance of a city parking lot in the 100 block of East First Street and are in storage.
“Olympic Birds,” a stone carving by Mike Hann, was pulled from near the crosswalk in the 100 block of West First Street and is now being warehoused.
The art installation “Transcenda” by sculptor Robert Short is slated for removal from its current location in front of the former Copies Plus building at Front and Oak. A combination structure containing a parking garage, retail shops and apartments is proposed for the site and is awaiting city approval.
Stokes said moved sculptures would be spruced up while awaiting reinstallation.
“We’ll clean them up in the process,” he said. “Put some polish and shine on them. It’s a lot easier to finish them in a workshop than it is out on the street.”
Stokes said sculpture relocation and restoration project was an opportunity to revive the long-dormant arts council. The group’s 15 directors and 10 at-large members will be meeting in 2020 to provide guidance on how to keep the Port Angeles arts community vibrant.
“It gave us a reason to get out of bed,” he said. “We’re just in a dormant state because we didn’t have any good projects.
“Our first goal was to bite off something that needs to be done and succeed at it. Then we’ll take the next steps.”
Stokes said his group would look at reviving the “Art on the Town” walking tour of downtown art. Included would be an update of the tour’s brochure and map of sculptures, which was last updated in 2015.
A revamp of the Second Weekend Art Walk was also being considered, he said.
The group will be looking at the purchase of as many as three additional art installations. Funding would come from a grant from the county lodging tax, he said.
The arts council will work with city planners when it comes time to find new homes for moved sculptures, Stokes said. Automobile traffic and pedestrian flow will be taken into consideration.
“The ones we’re removing right now, we’re not sure where they’re going to be located,” he said. “We have to talk with the design teams for the projects.
“We can’t go around putting them wherever we want.”
Photojournalist Keith Thorpe can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 59050, or at [email protected].