Sesquicentennial. What?

Sesquicentennial – Adjective: of or relating to the one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of a significant event. Noun: A one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary.

Now, give it a try. Just let that word roll off your tongue.

In April of this year, artists and artist teams were invited to submit qualifications and proposals to design and produce a public art piece that would commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the incorporation of the town of Walla Walla, WA. Walla Walla was incorporated as a community in 1862, which was the same year that President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act into law.

This unique and commemorative project is meant to serve as a visual monument for the City of Walla Walla; a sculpture that celebrates Walla Walla’s heritage, local identities and authentic traditions. The project is being funded through a generous grant from the Sherwood Trust and is being managed by ArtWalla. Upon completion, the sculpture will be gifted to the city and will become an integral part of its public art program. ArtWalla initiated Walla Walla’s Public Art program in 1997 and has donated $624,000 works of public art directly to the City; this includes the commissioning of thirteen public art pieces now sited downtown. The public art owned by the City is valued at $1,092,450.

The Selected Project

Conceptual sketches of the front and back views of "Looking Back, Looking Forward" - winning sculpture of the ArtWalla Sesquicentennial project. The actual sculpture will be cast bronze and will stand 12 1/2 feet tall.

Conceptual sketches of the front and back views of “Looking Back, Looking Forward” – winning sculpture of the ArtWalla Sesquicentennial project. The actual sculpture will be cast bronze and will stand 12 1/2 feet tall.

On June 2nd the ArtWalla Sesquicentennial committee made their final decision as to which project would be chosen from the three finalist’s designs. It was announced that my proposed sculpture, “Looking Back, Looking Forward” was chosen as the project winner. I was honored by the committee’s selection and look forward to creating and installing the commemorative sculpture. This piece will be an interpretive representation and reflection of the themes that have been foundational to the formation of the Walla Walla community during the past 150 years. I accepted the selection with a deep understanding of the value of the piece both as a significant visual monument within the community as well as being an important part of my artistic development and visual legacy.

“Looking Back, Looking Forward”: Click here for more images of the maquette and to learn more about thematic concepts of the piece. I’ll be posting intermittent progress images and reports on my Facebook page, so be sure to check in there every so often.

The artist's Photoshop rendering of the proposed installation site for “Looking Back, Looking Forward.” The site is located at the heart of historic downtown Walla Walla in Heritage Park.

The artist’s Photoshop rendering of the proposed installation site for “Looking Back, Looking Forward.” The site is located at the heart of historic downtown Walla Walla in Heritage Park.

As I anticipate the process of creating this piece I am excited about the prospect of immersing myself in the concepts and materials that will bring the sculpture to life. My interaction with this important symbolic work of art will be fully considered throughout the production process and I anticipate learning as much about Walla Walla’s layered history as I do about my own place within it. We each have the capacity to make an impact on the society in which we live. It’s my hope that as I strive to do so through my creativity, that I’ll continue to think more about those within the community than I do myself. I’ve identified this to be an underlying theme that has helped to make Walla Walla a strong and robust community.

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