Call it the “artrium.”
The University Place City Council recently selected the privately funded public art that will hang from the central gathering space inside the civic and library building within the next three years.
Titled Between Sea and Sky, the sculpture will feature about 700 small glass elements that will be suspended from the atrium’s ceiling. Each sculpture is crafted to represent nature, including the sky, trees, maple leafs, pine needles and water. The light from the atrium’s windows will shine through the glass.
“The changing colors and movement during different times of the day will bring a unique visual experience to viewers each time they visit the atrium,” explained Helen Hein, president of UP for Arts, a community public art advocacy group that commissioned the work.
The artist, Michele Gutlove, has created glass sculptures that hang at The Ohio State University and inside the public library in Corvallis, Ore., among many other locations.
On June 17, the council agreed with the selection, allowing UP for Arts to move on to its fundraising phase. UP for Arts hopes to raise $75,000 to $100,000 for the sculpture, and Hein said they’ve raised 10 percent of the money thus far. Once the project is finished, the organization will donate the artwork to the city.
Council members were enthusiastic about the coming addition.
“It’s just something that’s going to draw people in,” Councilman Eric Choiniere said. “It’s great work.”
Councilwoman Denise McCluskey said Between Sea and Sky represents a different take on the sculptures created by Tacoma glass artist Dale Chihuly that “really brings fire and life to this piece of work.”
The civic building is home to the Pierce County University Place Library. Hein said the sculpture will create a “visually exciting entrance in sync with the library as a center of imagination.” The Pierce County Library System shares ownership of the atrium and has supported the project.
The original plans for the civic building included the option of adding public art. Last year, UP for Art presented a proposal to do just that, and the council agreed to the request with the understanding that neither the city nor the library had money to contribute to the project.
Gutlove’s work won the support of the “overwhelming majority” of residents who reviewed the nine submissions during the Duck Daze community event on June 1.
The city and library will provide space in the atrium for a donor wall that recognizes residents and businesses that contribute money to the project.