Fifth piece of art considered for Pioneer Way

To draw even more attention to a revitalized downtown and complement four other artworks proposed for SE Pioneer Way, the Oak Harbor Arts Commission is now considering commissioning a fifth piece near the corner of Highway 20.

At a meeting at City Hall this week, arts commission members informally agreed that the city’s investment in economic development is lacking a dedicated gateway to downtown and that public art may be just the thing to lure passing motorists to the historic shopping district.

“Something that’s obviously an art piece that says, ‘This way,’” chairwoman Erica Schumacher said.

While no decisions were made, the commission decided that such a project warranted further discussion and may even take priority over other planned projects, such as public art that would decorate the Oak Harbor Farmers Market.

As the improvement project’s budget only calls for four public art works, this fifth piece would be paid for out of the commission’s regular budget. Details such as what the art would be or when it would go were not decided but commission members said it would be nice to have it completed sometime this year.

“There has to be some grand reopening of this street and it would be nice to have this in place,” Schumacher said.

But just getting the four proposed pieces in place before construction wraps up on the budgeted $8.35 million project by September may be a tight deadline. Cac Kamak, a senior planner for Oak Harbor, warned the commission during Monday’s meeting that there is still a lot left to do.

Before it can even make its final decision, the commission has to conduct and tabulate the results of a public survey. Coupled with the lengthy agenda creation process, Kamak said it could be as late as June before the issue goes before the city council.

If artworks are approved — they are an $80,000 budget line item subject to approval by the city council — contracts with the artists have to be hammered out and then it will take time for them to create their art. It could be a while before everything is done and the art pieces are in place, he said.

“We’re probably looking at the tail end, or after the project,” Kamak said.

Art commissioners did make progress Monday, narrowing down the number of artist proposals from 13 to 11 and deciding the best locations for each. Those eliminated were marble works depicting the city’s sails emblem and a statue titled “Lunar Tides.”

The project calls for art on SE Pioneer at the intersections of City Beach Street, Dock Street, Ireland Street and Midway Boulevard. The pieces on City Beach and Midway would be in the $30,000 range, while the others would be adorned with $10,000 pieces.

Arts commissioners also reviewed survey results gathered at a Feb. 22 open house. Of the 34 participants, the four projects that received the highest scores were a machine that emits water vapor, towers of stacked glass, a swirling vortex of water, and colored glass in the shape of fish out of water.

A bronze mermaid that got a warm reception at an art’s commission meeting two weeks prior was ranked seventh out of 13.

The arts commission hopes to gather further input with a second survey delivered with utility bills this month, and through the project’s website,

Eventually, it will recommend four pieces to the city council with an alternative for each.


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