New loaned art pieces unveiled

August 25, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Three carved cedar poles by Steve Jensen stand at the intersection of Rainier Avenue and East Sunset Way for public viewing. The poles will stand for one year as part of a loaned public art program. By Chantelle Lusebrink

Three carved cedar poles by Steve Jensen stand at the intersection of Rainier Avenue and East Sunset Way for public viewing. The poles will stand for one year as part of a loaned public art program. By Chantelle Lusebrink

The first of two loaned public art pieces made its debut in Issaquah Aug. 17.

The piece is a sculpture called “Forest Carvings,” by Seattle artist Steve Jensen. He installed the pieces in the grassy area at the intersection of East Sunset Way and Rainier Avenue South.

“When we look at public art that is going to be in the community, we want to make sure it is accessible,” Amy Dukes, city art coordinator, said of the site. “Public art enhances public spaces and creates a sense of place in spaces that would be unusable otherwise.”

The work is set in a grove of trees near the intersection, a perfect location, Jensen said.

“I love the idea of carved trees in a grove of trees,” he said.

The sculpture is three 8-foot, carved cedar poles and demonstrates the city and its residents’ value of the environment and the land.

The cedar tree Jensen used to create the piece was a naturally felled tree, which he said he believed he obtained in Southworth, Wash.

“I like to use as much natural materials as possible,” he said. “I don’t cut trees for the sake of my work. I use what is already there.”Asked what the theme of the sculptures was, Jensen laughed slightly and said, “There is no real theme. I often jokingly call them contemporary American primitivism in a complex modern society.”

Whatever people take away from the piece is fine with him, he said, but he hopes people walk away with a smile on their face.

The carvings are also ties to Jensen’s heritage. He carved the pieces recently with the same chisels that his grandfather, a Norwegian fisherman and boat builder, used.

Jensen has been working with wood most of his life and began showing professionally in the mid-1980s. He has worked predominately in the Northwest, but has also shown his work nationally and internationally.

The sculpture is part of the city’s loaned art program that brings new, unique pieces of public art to Issaquah for a year timeframe, Dukes said.

The city was looking to purchase public art for the space and put out a request for proposals. One hundred local, national and internationally renowned artists sent bids, which were narrowed down by a panel of residents and Arts Commission members. Steven Jensen’s art continually stood out as one to pursue for the panel, Dukes said.

“They liked his respect for the environment in his work,” she said. I hope residents “feel a good connection to site.”

However, as the process moved on and the economy worsened, members of the panel opted to begin the loaned art program instead of purchasing new art, Dukes said.

“The program is a cost-effective way to bring interesting, high-quality artwork to enhance public spaces,” and enrich the lives of residents, Dukes said.

To install, keep a piece for one year and uninstall it costs the city $750, she said. However, if a piece is well-received during the year it is here, Dukes said there might be a chance to purchase it.

Another loaned art piece, by Mary Coss, will be installed later this year.

On the Web:

www.stevejensenstudios.com

Chantelle Lusebrink: 425-392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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