Councilman says residents don’t want sculpture, others disagree

Oak Harbor City Council members have not yet decided whether to accept the sculpture as a gift.

The “Angel de la Creatividad” sculpture is currently bright red and being stored on its side at a construction company’s property in Bellingham. Oak Harbor City Council members have not voted on whether to accept the gift of the art yet. Photo provided

The “Angel de la Creatividad” sculpture is currently bright red and being stored on its side at a construction company’s property in Bellingham. Oak Harbor City Council members have not voted on whether to accept the gift of the art yet. Photo provided

Oak Harbor City Councilmember Jeffrey Mack said the people have spoken, and they’re saying “no thank you” to the “Angel de la Creatividad” sculpture that has been surrounded by controversy since it was proposed as a gift to the city.

The 37-foot-tall, bright red, metal sculpture of an angel has been offered as a gift to Oak Harbor by the estate of the late public arts supporter, George Drake.

Drake’s estate bought the sculpture from Sebastián, a sculptor renowned for colorful, large installations around the world.

City council members have not yet decided whether to accept the gift. Staff presented possible locations, maintenance costs and draft agreements for accepting the art during a workshop meeting on March 24.

The city Park Board recommended two sites between the beach and the kitchen shelter in Windjammer Park.

Staff said the maintenance costs were estimated to be $1,000 per cleaning of the art.

A draft memorandum of understanding between the city and Sculpture Northwest, a nonprofit leading the charge for the art piece’s installation in Oak Harbor, outlines the partnership in detail. It states the city would be responsible for only $35,000 of the costs to install the art, and the nonprofit would pay for the rest. It also gives the city the final say on the sculpture’s location. A separate gifting agreement would transfer ownership from Drake’s estate to the city.

Although most of the written public comment submitted to the city in recent weeks has favored accepting the gift, the bulk of online conversation has not.

Mack is the first city council member to come out against the sculpture. He cited public comment, social media, reports from the city’s media monitoring tool called Zencity and conversations with constituents as the reasons why he did not support the sculpture.

“This park belongs to residents of Oak Harbor, and they should have a strong voice in the decisions that affect these parks,” he said. “In my opinion, they have spoken and they have said ‘No thank you’ to this particular sculpture.”

However, multiple city council members stated their enthusiasm for the towering work of art.

Mayor Pro Tem Beth Munns disagreed with Mack’s assessment of public opinion, saying “so far, (from) the letters and stuff I’ve gotten, the public approves of this.”

Councilmember Joel Servatius said he is excited about the project and read a list of international cities with artwork by Sebastian.

“When I think about little old Oak Harbor getting a major piece from this artist – it’s very, very impressive,” he said.

Councilmember Tara Hizon said she supported the art but that she would like to see options for other sites in addition to Windjammer Park. She suggested Flintstone Park as a possibility.

Councilmember Jim Woessner again suggested Catalina Park be considered as a potential spot for the sculpture. He said he was “apprehensive” of installing anything permanent at Windjammer Park before seeing the final phase drawings for park improvements completed.

The next step for the sculpture to move forward is for both the city and Sculpture Northwest to sign the memorandum of agreement for the project to move forward.

After that, council members will vote on whether to accept the gift.

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