Published July 20, 2012
New sculpture exhibition takes over Percival LandingMOLLY GILMORE
Over the past week or so, 15 new sculptures were installed on Percival Landing, creating the second yearlong exhibition on the plinths that were added when the park was revamped.People are excited about the new pieces, created by nine Washington artists who are loaning the pieces to Olympia, Stephanie Johnson of the citys Parks, Arts and Recreation Department said.Weve been moving sculpture for two weeks now, Johnson said Monday. People have been stopping me, saying, Oh, its new. I hadnt realized the power of rotating the art.The new exhibition is interactive: Anyone who goes to see it before the end of August can vote for a favorite. The city will purchase the winning sculpture and add it to its public art collection.Last years winner, King Salmon by Dan Klennert, is now permanently located in West Bay Park, 700 W. Bay Drive N.W., Olympia. There are a lot of other public places in Olympia that could use outdoor sculpture, Johnson said.The exhibition is an example of the power of public art, said Cheryl Simrell King, a professor in the masters of public administration program at The Evergreen State College and a docent for the citys summer public art tours.The sculpture project is really exciting, she said. It allows people to have a voice in what they want to see, and it is a venue for our artists. And the temporary nature of it creates a flow, an aliveness.Public art helps to build community, she said. It creates a sense of place and an opportunity for accidental encounters with other people.People can talk to each other around it, she said. That builds relationships. Thats what public art does: It defines a place, and it creates community.Olympia is a pretty rare beast in that we have a Parks, Arts and Recreation Department, she added. Other parks departments are just parks and recreation. Olympia is phenomenal in its commitment to public art.The landing has long been the focus of the citys summer art tours, which resume July 28. It has several well-known permanent pieces of public art, including The Kiss and Motherhood.The 25 plinths added in the renovation of Percival Landing make room for much more, including the juried sculpture exhibit, and could serve as performance spaces, Johnson said.The sculptures in the exhibit represent a range of materials, styles and subjects. What they do have in common is that they fit atop the 3-foot-by-3-foot plinths, which vary in height. All scluptures are on loan from Washington artists, most from the Olympia area. The artists are Karsten Boysen, Grey Brogdon, Ray Evans, Don Freas, Ken Hall, Ross Matteson, Ken Partlow, Sylvia Perle and Leon White.Theres bronze; theres stone; theres welded metal; theres repurposed metal, Johnson said. There are figural forms. There are a couple of animals, an owl and eagle. Some are abstract.But not all of them will be around for long. Voting ends Aug. 31.