Nine half-inch-thick steel panels, cut through with the shapes of leaves and branches, will mimic a round grove of cottonwood trees in front of City Hall.
Inlaid images of trunks and more branches will decorate the surface of the panels. The holes in the panels will allow dappled light to filter into the center of the grove. To people who step back from the sculpture, the collective images on the panels will look like a stand of cottonwoods.
Thats the concept that won over judges deciding what art will adorn the renovated Boise City Hall Plaza. A five-member selection panel picked the two Boise design firms entry over 26 other artists who submitted proposals.
I like that its emblematic of the cottonwoods, said Maryanne Jordan, president of the Boise City Council and a member of the panel. I like the scale of it, because it gives some relief to whats kind of a stark exterior on the building. I like that its a large and attractive art piece in and of itself, but it still leaves good open space in the plaza.
The art project is part of a larger plaza remake expected to take place in the spring and summer of 2015. The city has struggled for years to find the right concept to replace a stand of flags on the plazas southern side.
After entertaining nine proposals from non-Idaho artists, the citys latest process emphasized finding a concept that represents Boise. That approach encouraged local artists, none of whom has ever done a project of this scale.
In the fall, presentations for all 27 concepts hung in Boises Downtown Sesqui-Shop, allowing the public to comment on them. The CTY Studios-Ecosystem Sciences presentation received the second-most favorable comments.
The Wooded River, a piece by Boise artist Leslie Dixon and one of three finalists, received the largest number of favorable comments.
Dwaine Carver, one of the artists who put together the winning concept, is aware of the projects history, and he admits its intimidating trying to build a piece of art that brands Boise. Carver already has his name on one of Boises most visible public art projects Heliotrope at the north entrance to Grove Plaza but this is more ambitious than anything hes ever done.
We all really appreciate the complexity and difficulty of how you monumentalize something or how you memorialize something what you select to do, how do you construct meaning, how do you construct something that is meaningful to the community, and hopefully useful and beautiful, Carver said.
And so we love the challenge of that and we embrace that. In short, my favorite thing about the project is the difficulty. But if its successful, then the payoff, I think, is tremendous.
Before the selection panels choice is final, Boises Arts and History Commission and the City Council have to approve it. So, too, must Capital City Development Corporation, Boises urban renewal agency, which will cover half the projects cost.
Jordan thinks this project will pass all those tests.
I do think that we have found something that is going to really kind of help tell Boises story, she said. It was a really exciting process. I know it took a long time, but I think weve come to a good and reasonable place. And I think weve got a piece that people are going to enjoy for a long, long time to come.
CTY and Ecosystems Sciences say theyll collect $20,000 for their artist fee. The other $180,000 for the project will go to building it.
In addition to the steel cottonwood grove on City Hall Plazas south side, the artists will help design a seating area in place of the fountain on the plazas north side, Boise Public Arts Manager Karen Bubb said.
Sven Berg: 377-6275