Oak Harbor Arts Commission to reconsider artwork for Pioneer Way
By JUSTIN BURNETT
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
May 6, 2011 · Updated 1:41 PM
It’s back to the discussion table for the Oak Harbor Arts Commission.
Following the advisory group’s selection last month of four public artworks to decorate SE Pioneer Way, two of their top picks are now out of the running. One of the artists withdrew his submission and another doubled his price.
“That’s half of our collection so it’s time to go back and look at everything,” said Erica Schumacher, chairwoman for the arts commission.
The group, which makes recommendations to the city council, has been working for months to select public art for the SE Pioneer Way Improvement Project. They were given a budget of $80,000 and tasked with picking four pieces out of more than 40 submitted by about 15 artists.
Those selected during a special meeting in April were a colored metal sculpture of a harbor seal in kelp for the corner of City Beach Street; a mechanical piece that spouts water vapor for Dock Street; three columns of stacked glass for Ireland Street; and a silver-colored metal sculpture depicting a moon supported by two waves for Midway Boulevard.
The harbor seal and the mechanical water vapor piece appear to no longer be contenders. The artist who submitted the harbor seal, Bill Hunt of Newport, Ore., increased his price from $10,000 to $20,000 and the water vapor artist, Tom Lindsay of Freeland, withdrew his piece altogether.
Lindsay could not be reached by press time but Schumacher said he decided to remove his piece because he no longer felt it would be a “good fit” for the area. There were a number of logistical issues with the piece, such as needed infrastructure.
The piece was also one of the least popular with the public, according to the results of an arts commission survey. It came in 10th out of 11 total pieces. Despite its low ranking, it got overwhelming support from arts commission members.
“It was the one kinetic piece, the one with the big wow factor,” Schumacher said.
Alternatively, the seal in kelp was one of the most popular in the survey, ranking in the top four. Arts Commission member Rick Lawler said it had been a crowd favorite from the beginning and that it’s a shame to see it go.
“It’s disappointing but we do have alternatives,” he said.
Secondary pieces were also selected in the event that any of the finalists fell out of the running. In this case, it could result in a shuffle of pieces and it’s not clear yet what pieces will land where and which will replace those no longer being considered.
Primary considerations, aside from aesthetics, will be location-specific requirements and price. Anything over the $80,000 — a line item in the Pioneer Way construction budget — would have to come out of the arts commission’s own budget, such as a fifth piece being considered for the intersection of Highway 20. It’s priced at $22,000.
The arts commission’s recommendation is still planned to go before the city council later this month, which means the group would have to hammer out new choices at the their regularly scheduled meeting Monday, May 9.
The meeting will be held at City Hall at 6 p.m.Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Justin Burnett at email@example.com or 360-675-6611 ext. 5054.