Limestone sculpture destined for Fort Nugent
By JIM LARSEN
Whidbey News Times Editor
July 3, 2008 · Updated 10:59 AM
Oak Harbor history is being made in Kentucky as the citys first commissioned art project takes shape.
Its the first piece of public art created though Oak Harbors new 1 percent for the arts program, adopted last year by the City Council at the request of the 11-member Arts Commission.
Fort Nugent Park, the pride of Oak Harbor, features sports fields, trails and a hugely popular playground. One percent of recent expenditures was set aside for art, as allowed by state law, which created a fund of $11,000 to purchase a piece of art for the park.
The Arts Commission made a public call for art proposals. Interest came from Whidbey Island artists and others throughout the nation. The idea that caught the fancy of the Arts Commission came from Don Lawler, a stone sculptor who lives in Kentucky.
His design is called Release, and is being carved from a 13,000-pound block of limestone. The Arts Commissions preference was adopted by the City Council in March.
Two of the Arts Commission members, Erica Schumacher and Karla Freund, are now making the rounds, telling people about the project and urging them to follow Lawlers work online at http://restlessrocks.blogspot.com.
The Arts Commission in a news release describes the work of art as a seed pod bursting to release sprouts and leaf forms. It represents the potential in the individual and, by extension, all mankind.
It was by far the most popular of the 16 sculpture designs considered by the Arts Commission, Freund said. All the arts commissioners hands-down loved that piece.
Being a work of art, there are bound to be disparate opinions about its message and how it fits in near Oak Harbors popular playground. The commissioners see that as a positive good thing.
We imagine that it will spark some public discourse on the value of public art, both pro and con, Schumacher said. Having an open conversation about art in Oak Harbor and how public art has contributed to the transformation of LaConner, Langley and Anacortes is a good thing.
Standing three-feet high, the hefty sculpture is destined to become a hands-on fixture in the park, attracting children and adults alike.
There are plenty of kids out there, Schumacher said of the park. Parents should have something too, plus the kids can touch it.
Isnt it good to introduce art to children? asked Freund. I think its fun. And the piece is stone, they cant really hurt it.
If the Arts Commission has its way, Release wont be the only piece of public art in Oak Harbor. They hope 1 percent will be set aside for art from the Windjammer Park walkway expansion and the future sewer plant, for example. Theyre looking forward to helping Oak Harbor become more art-oriented.
Its our job to make sure its spent on something that will hopefully make a difference, Shumacher said. We have all sorts of great ideas.Contact Whidbey News Times Editor Jim Larsen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-360-675-6611 (ext 5050).