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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment October 16, 2018

2/6/2018 1:55:00 PM
Citizens can view art proposed for roundabout
Artists inspiration reflected in sculptures
Photographs don't do justice to the three project scale models for the art installation in the roundabout at Highway 20/Barclay Drive that are currently on view in the lobby at City Hall. They need to be seen in person and the explanations of their concepts and designs read in order to be fully appreciated.

Each project is singular in design and successfully reflects the original guidelines put forth by the Art Selection Committee.

John Fleming and Jeff Wester's creation, titled "Butte," is composed of 213 steel angles fabricated from right-angle plates. The profile of these plates creates the illusion of trees at the base of a mountain. The angles, varying in height from five feet to 20 feet 8 inches, are bolted to below-grade concrete footings. A mound of red cinders forms a five-foot-tall headlight-screening base.

The mild steel will rust over time, forming a natural patina requiring no maintenance. In the Central Oregon environment, the creators anticipate a 100-year life-span.

Fleming and Wester were looking for an iconic form that captures the character of Sisters and Central Oregon.

"As one drives east on Highway 20, over the pass and down into Sisters, Black Butte comes into view. What could be more iconic? Black Butte, Mt. Jefferson, Bachelor Butte, the Three Sisters. All these peaks express the character and grandeur of this special place," Fleming said of the inspiration for "Butte."

Wester and Fleming have worked together on other installations, including the roundabout art located in Bend at the Mt. Washington/Simpson intersection. According to Fleming, that project began as a more traditional designer/fabricator relationship, "but I quickly learned how much more Jeff had to offer.

"This time the design process was much more collaborative ... Sisters' roundabout is a special instance where Jeff's local understanding guided what was really right - how to capture the essence of this special space," Fleming explained.

Fleming grew up in the high desert of northern New Mexico and Arizona, so making something for Sisters is like coming home for him.

"If our 'Butte' design is chosen, I would be overjoyed," Fleming told The Nugget.

Wester said that for 37 years he has watched the town of Sisters grow from a dying logging, farming, and ranching town to the bustling destination town that it is today.

"This growth has allowed me to create a business in metalwork that I never could have imagined back in the 1980s. I would be honored to be able to build this sculpture at the entrance to our great community, and every time I drive around it I would be reminded to say thanks to the people of this town who have supported my business," Wester said.

"A Land of Contrasts," created by Danae Bennett-Miller, depicts the difference between the forested mountains and the high desert. Her piece highlights the role of Sisters as the gateway between the ecosystems.

The west side is represented by a solitary elk standing before a landscape where an opening between large rock outcroppings leads to the landscape of eastern Oregon, with three antelope running as if they passed through the basalt columns behind them.

According to Bennett-Miller, "Contrasting rock and landscape backgrounds are important components to create a contrast of east and west."

The life-size animal sculptures are to be cast bronze. The total size of the sculpture, with landscaping and rocks, would sit inside the 50-foot radius and would be approximately 14 feet tall. Installed on a raised grade, the overall installation would be taller than that.

"I am so excited with the concept of contrasts and the idea of Sisters as a gateway... This land of contrasts serves to celebrate the diverse beauty of our state," she said. "To be selected for this roundabout would be such an honor."

Roger Stoller explained that "Mountain Helix" is a progression of his on-going exploration of helical (spiral) forms. The placing of artwork into a traffic roundabout and the city's proximity to the majestic mountains served as the starting point for his design.

"My response to the roundabout is the turn of the helical shape, providing artwork that resonates with the flow of traffic around it. The artistic pattern, inspired by the beautiful Sisters (mountains) and the flora and fauna of Central Oregon, will be cut through the curved steel," he described.

His inspiration came from the spiral form.

"The helical form from which 'Mountain Helix' takes shape, can be found throughout the universe, from the smallest strand of DNA, to unfurling plant life, to spiral galaxies in space. I am endlessly fascinated with the expression of these principles in the world around me," the artist remarked.

The approximate dimensions of the project would be six feet nine inches across the top and 17-feet tall. Proposed material for the sculpture would be Corten A588, most commonly used for sculpture and architectural purposes because it has a rust patina but is resistant to rusting beyond the surface, remaining structural outdoors for years without a protective coating.

Stoller is no stranger to Sisters. Over the past 25 years he has visited his brother Lawrence, also an artist, and his family here in Sisters, allowing him "to experience the wondrous beauty of the high desert and mountain terrain of Sisters."

Hiking and exploring with his brother has given Stoller the opportunity to see Sisters through the eyes of someone who knows it well.

"It would be a tremendous honor to work with the City of Sisters to create a work that celebrates this natural setting," Stoller concluded.

The public has until February 16 to view the models and leave their comments during regular City Hall business hours.

By Sue Stafford

The exquisite artistry and creativity exemplified by all three finalists in the selection process for the Highway 20/Barclay Drive roundabout art will likely make the final decision of the Sisters Art Selection Committee a difficult one.

The public is invited to view models of the three entries at City Hall during business hours between now and February 16. There are forms available for leaving comments to be considered by the art committee as they make their selection. Citizens can rank the three pieces, make comments about each one, and/or only pick their favorite. Including reasons for their selection will be helpful to the committee. The more comments the committee receives, the stronger the indication of the public favorite.

All three of the artist proposals have local connections. John Fleming from Seattle, Washington has collaborated with Jeff Wester of Sisters' Ponderosa Forge and IronWorks to create "Butte." Wester's work is well known in Sisters Country and appreciated for its form, function, and artistry.

Danae Bennett-Miller lives in Tumalo, and her son Logan graduated from Sisters High School last year. The heron sculpture located in Barclay Park is her creation. Her proposal is titled "A Land of Contrasts."

"Mountain Helix" is the entry from Roger White Stoller of Portola Valley, California. He has a brother who lives in Sisters and has made numerous visits to the area.

The art committee began meeting in May 2016 to establish guidelines for potential entries. The City received 125 proposals for the project. A great deal of assistance came from the Bend group Art in Public Places, which has established guidelines and selected the artwork for roundabouts in their city. According to Nicole Abbenhuis, Sisters Public Works operations coordinator, the Bend group's guidance was invaluable.

The field was narrowed down to eight semi-finalists after being evaluated from an artistic perspective and for how well they met project guidelines. A technical committee comprised of representatives from the Oregon Department of Transportation along with the Sisters city engineer assessed them for structural and traffic safety factors and provided feedback to the art committee.

Three finalists were selected, and they were invited to present scale models of their art proposals to ODOT, the City of Sisters, and the Art Selection Committee.

On February 28, the Art Selection Committee, with the input from the public viewing, will make a recommendation to the City Council. The Council will make the final selection of the artist(s) and artwork design concept, approved through a majority vote.

The art installation is projected for completion by fall 2018. The project is fully funded by a Federal Lands Access Program Grant (FLAP) in the amount of $200,000.

The landscape architecture firm of Cameron McCarthy of Bend has been selected to design the plantings for the entire roundabout project, including the center where the sculpture will be installed. As soon as Council makes their selection, McCarthy will begin his design work.

A partial function of the landscaping and the artwork will be to obscure a straight view of the highway beyond to slow traffic down as it travels through the roundabout.

(To view the art, pick up the print edition of The Nugget).

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