A traffic roundabout in Woodinville is about to become the permanent exhibition site for a grand-scale piece of public art.
In May, a 25-foot metal sculpture will be installed in the middle of a roundabout at NE 171st Street and 135th Avenue NE, near the Woodin Creek Village apartments. The artwork is part of the development agreement for the apartment complex approved by the city in 2013.
The piece, a kinetic sculpture that moves in the wind called “In Cloud Light III,” was designed by artist Anthony Howe at his studio on Orcas Island.
Howe designed the sculpture and cauldron used to mark the opening of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, and a sculpture that appeared on stage at last month’s Academy Awards ceremony. He has also created permanent pieces of art throughout the world, in places as far flung as the Dubai shopping district, and the intersection of McBee Avenue and Falls Street in Greenville, South Carolina.
It was the spinning sculpture in Greenville that drew the interest of city officials in Woodinville, who wondered whether a towering piece of art blowing in the wind might create a traffic hazard. The advice from those in Greenville, as well as staff at the Washington Department of Transportation, was that the sculpture would not affect traffic safety.
“The consensus was that in today’s extremely cluttered public spaces, including roadways, ranging from electronic billboards to private developments such as Seattle’s Great Wheel … this sculpture would not be an abnormality,” said City Manager Brandon Buchanan in a report to the city council on the art donation.
The council, which under the city code must approve donations of more than $5,000, voted to accept the sculpture at its March 21 meeting. Buchanan said the sculpture’s donors estimate its value at $450,000.
The city also considered whether the sculpture would fit aesthetically with the agricultural character of its surroundings.
“While more abstract and modern in materials, staff believes the art piece is appropriate for the area,” Buchanan said. “From afar, it resembles a windmill, when both still and in motion.”
The sculpture, the top of which spins in winds as low as 2 mph but is built to withstand 90 mph winds, is currently on display in Germany.