Northwest NEWS

July 23, 2001

Features

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Seattle residents Bill Shanks and his son Alex relax on Andreas Kunert's 6000 lb Chair sculpture at Wilmot Gateway Park.
Photo by Bronwyn Wilson.

A stroll through Woodinville's outdoor art gallery

by Bronwyn Wilson
   Senior Staff Reporter
   Many citizens may not be aware of the outdoor art gallery in Woodinville. It is open seven days a week with no admission fee required.
   Since April 2001 seven intriguing exhibits have graced the landscape at Wilmot Gateway Park as part of Woodinville ARTwalk, a program to promote public enjoyment of art in public spaces. Several of the sculptures make artful statements in stone abstractions. Another, made of marine plywood, resembles a painted sail blowing in the wind.
   For a $250 honorarium fee, specific artists were invited to show their work in the park for one year.
   "Artists cover the cost to get the piece in the park," says art consultant and curator, Susan Asia, hired by the city of Woodinville to locate art. She explains that the art exhibits in the park are there by invitation only. "Basically, the artist is invited by the city to participate."
   On a July day, she steps through the archway of the park's entrance and heads toward the first exhibit to come into view.
   She sweeps her hand across the surface of the carved sculpture of leaping salmon by artist Pat McVay. By putting her hand on the art, she demonstrates that adults and children can't cut themselves on artwork in the park, including McVay's "Spawning."
   She remarks, "There aren't any sharp edges," and adds, "The city has a tremendous respect for safety issues."
   Marveling at McVay's work glistening in the sun, Asia says the salmon piece has not only garnered the respect of adults but also the enthusiasm of children. She describes a child's unabashed glee upon seeing it, "You'll hear, 'Mommy, a fish!' It's so cool."
   She strolls over to a stone sculpture called, "The Sentinel" by Bremerton artist William Robinson. Carved from basalt, the abstraction juts upward like a totem pole.
   Grazing her hand over the various textures, she says, "It has smooth and it has very rough. It's polished, carved and scored."
   Another sculpture by Robinson called "Stargazers" adorns the park lawn. Set in two pieces of white granite, one looms nine feet up and the other reclines on its side. It has carved-out spaces filled in with cast glass.
   In a later phone conversation, Robinson discusses the set. The two stones, he says, depict two people camping under the night sky.
   One is standing while gazing up at the stars and the other is resting on its back and looking up.
   He says his art doesn't attempt to evoke a feeling, "I don't care to impart my mood. I'm more interested in what the viewer might draw from it."
   Canadian artist Andreas Kunert, who also displays at the park, has a more definite intention.
   He sculpted a 6,000-pound rock into a chair and called it "Enchanted Garden." Located near the playground, the rock chair looks like a natural stone. However, its worn and smooth character did not occur over time but was intentionally placed by Kunert.
   The chair allows moms and dads an opportunity to relax while their children play. According to Asia, chairs are Kunert's specialty.
   "He makes huge chairs and small chairs." As she discusses the attributes of his work, a Seattle man and his son lounge on the rock chair and appear as comfortable as if they were nestled in a gigantic pillow.
   Asia says that the city of Woodinville looks for art in natural tones to complement the woodland character of the city's architecture.
   "Each city has its own taste," she explains.
   Kirkland, she says, is very corporate and seeks art in neutral tones while Redmond likes to play with color. She says an example of this is the many colors of birdhouses on the Redmond municipal campus.
   Parks Director, Lane Youngblood says that Woodinville's Parks and Recreation Commission, the Planning Commission and the Council have had an interest in public art since incorporation.
   She comments, "The Council is currently reviewing art policies that would make art a part of public projects."
   Public art is defined by the city as any art accessible to the community in city-owned publicly-used facilities, including parks or art incorporated into the design of public facilities.
   Parks and Recreation Commissioner Liz Aspen says that Woodinville has a plan to purchase permanent art that will remain a form of pride for the city in years to come.
   "We are creating a definite plan for incorporating art in the city," she says. Currently in progress is the establishment of a Public Art Advisory Committee made up of three citizens and two commissioners. The committee will be responsible for reviewing donated and loaned art.
   A resolution of the City Council acknowledges the important role public art has for the cultural enrichment and aesthetic quality of a community.
   In a proposed Public Art Program, the city will put one percent of the costs of new city projects up to $100,000 toward a public art account. In the past, the city depended on donations for outdoor art. The annual Labor Day 10K race, a fundraising event sponsored by the sporting goods store Super Jock and Jill, helped to cover the cost of placing art at Wilmot.
   "Art enhances the city," says Commissioner Aspen and goes on to say, "It's fun to see how people interact with art and it energizes us to go forward to pursue an art program for the city."
   Aspen cites the 6,000-pound rock chair at Wilmot as an illustration. "The grass is getting worn in front of it because people are using it ... It's fun."
   What's next for art in Woodinville? Says Aspen, "We're looking forward to new art and sculptures in 2002."
   To find out more about public art in Woodinville, contact Lane Youngblood, Director of Parks and Recreation at (425) 489-2700.
   For more information about the artists, contact Susan Asia at (425) 228-5616 or at mhannan@yahoo.com