News

Limestone sculpture destined for Fort Nugent

Karla Freund, left, and Erica Schumacher stand where a new sculpture for Fort Nugent Park will one day be placed near the playground. The two Oak Harbor Arts Commission members urge the public to follow the sculpture’s progress online. - Jim Larsen / Whidbey News-Times
Karla Freund, left, and Erica Schumacher stand where a new sculpture for Fort Nugent Park will one day be placed near the playground. The two Oak Harbor Arts Commission members urge the public to follow the sculpture’s progress online.
— image credit: Jim Larsen / Whidbey News-Times

Oak Harbor history is being made in Kentucky as the city’s first commissioned art project takes shape.

It’s the first piece of public art created though Oak Harbor’s 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 Commission’s 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 Lawler’s 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 Harbor’s 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.”

“Isn’t it good to introduce art to children? asked Freund. “I think it’s fun. And the piece is stone, they can’t really hurt it.”

If the Arts Commission has its way, “Release” won’t 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. They’re looking forward to helping Oak Harbor become more art-oriented.

“It’s our job to make sure it’s spent on something that will hopefully make a difference,” Shumacher said. “We have all sorts of great ideas.”

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Dec 20
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates