Speed of fundraising for University Place art piece ‘shocking’

Staff writerDecember 18, 2013 

Proposed art installation for the library entrance in University Place.


A University Place arts group that thought it would need three years to raise money for the city’s largest art project is well on the way to its goal, only three months into its fundraising campaign.

The glass artwork, titled “Between Sky and Sea,” will hang in the atrium that leads to the Pierce County University Place Library, reflecting the light that spills through the wall of windows of the city’s civic building at Town Center.

When the privately funded public art project was approved by the University Place City Council this summer, the nonprofit UP for Arts board outlined a three-year plan to raise $100,000 in private donations needed to pay for the project and its installation.

Fundraising kicked off in earnest in September. Three months later the group has raised $80,000.

“We were pleasantly shocked,” said UP for Arts board member Debbie Klosowski.

The former mayor was tasked with leading the effort and was instrumental in securing the $80,000, said UP for Arts board president Helen Hein.

No one expected to raise the majority of the $100,000 goal in three months. Klosowski attributes the success to residents who see the value in public art.

“When you go out and ask people for money and you have a project that speaks to them and connects to them, it makes it easy to sell,” she said.

Two contributions of $25,000 also helped. One of the donations included a matching requirement, spurring people to donate.

The group has seen donations from $5 to $25,000, Hein said.

“There’s a sense of community pride, that we’re all in this together,” she said.

Because the group surpassed its fundraising timeline, members contacted Massachusetts artist Michele Gutlove to see if she could have the project done by May 2015 – a month before the U.S. Open at nearby Chambers Bay.

Gutlove anticipates she can finish in time for the golf championship that’s expected to draw thousands to the city in June 2015. Now Klosowski and Hein are focused on the final push to get the last of the money needed for the project.

“We’d like to finish as soon as possible so she can get to work,” Hein said.

Gutlove’s work will feature about 700 handmade glass elements suspended from the atrium’s ceiling. Pieces of sky, maple leafs, pine needles and water make up the hanging installation.

No public money is being used. UP for Arts will donate the artwork to the city when it’s complete. The nonprofit has helped with the acquisition of five public art pieces installed around the city. It has sponsored art and concert series events since 2011.

“Art isn’t just something nice,” Klosowski said. “It’s something to feed your soul.”

Brynn Grimley: 253-597-8467


University Place’s nonprofit arts group hopes people will keep the civic building glass project in mind this holiday season as they consider making end-of-year donations.

Tax-deductible donations can be sent to UP for Arts, PO Box 65145, University Place, WA 98464. More information at upforarts.org.

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