Debate continues over sculpture, but council unmoved

Opinions still run strong about the sculpture that will be installed in Oak Harbor’s Windjammer Park.

Opinions still run strong about the 37-foot “Angel de la Creatividad” sculpture that’s set to be installed in Oak Harbor’s Windjammer Park.

It was standing room only for what turned into a heated public comment period at Tuesday’s Oak Harbor City Council meeting. Sixteen residents showed up to voice their opinion on the artwork and were roughly divided on the issue.

Yet despite all of the debate, council members did not revisit their plans to place the sculpture, which will be painted gray, on the east side of the park.

Almost all of the public comments received via email had to do with the sculpture as well, officials said.

Those who supported the sculpture noted that it was not a replacement or in competition with a new windmill in the park. It was their opinion that it would drive up business in Oak Harbor. Some criticized the accuracy of the previous Facebook survey that skewed heavily in opposition of the sculpture being installed the park. Some appreciated the artwork as representing diversity.

“Even though the cultural settlement of Oak Harbor is Dutch, the town of Oak Harbor is as multicultural as it can be,” Claudia Sámano, owner of the dance studio, In Motion Company, said.

She spoke about the artist of the “Angel de la Creatividad” sculpture, Sebastián, who is from Mexico City and has art displayed all over the world, including Buenos Aires, Río de Janeiro, Denver, San Antonio, New York and Osaka.

“It is a silent message of unity to our children and our youth,” Sámano said. “It is an educational community investment that will last forever.”

Joel Servatius, former city council member, agreed.

“This is a chance to obtain a world class piece of art,” he said. “World class, there’s no denying that, for a fraction of the cost or investment.”

Others, however, don’t want to see the sculpture in the city’s waterfront park. They argued that it doesn’t fit in the city and that it is going to be expensive to maintain, especially with all the seagulls on the shore. Also, some simply don’t like the way in looks.

“I do not think it fits in the history or culture of Whidbey Island or Oak Harbor,” Les Richardson said.

“I oppose the look of the artwork,” Tina Gluth said. “I personally don’t care who did it, who designed it. I don’t feel like it’s going to bring in thousands of people to come in and look at it.”

John Kingsbury, treasurer of the nonprofit Sculpture Northwest, addressed some of the concerns. He said the group has spent closed to $100,000 on bringing the sculpture to Oak Harbor. The city will spend $35,000 in installation costs from the arts fund.

“The city currently has no plan for maintenance of any of its art – none,” he said. “And part of our mission and our agreement was to formulate one.”

After the public comment period ended, lively discussion continued outside of the council chamber.

Later on in the meeting, the council authorized $12,000 from the Creative Arts Fund to install the much less controversial Patrick McVay acorn sculpture, made from the 300-year-old oak tree outside of the post office. The acorn will be between Wells Fargo and People’s Bank on Pioneer Way and is planned to be installed at the end of August or beginning of September. There were no public comments on this item.