Andy Warhol flower could decorate Tacoma Dome after all

Officials will test adhesive first, might use pop icon’s design in the future

Staff writerApril 24, 2014 

City of Tacoma photo illustration showing what Andy Warhol's "Flower for the Tacoma Dome," would look like on the roof of Tacoma's iconic sports and entertainment facility. Pop icon, artist and photographer Andy Warhol submitted the design during a 1982 competition and if applied to the Dome's roof would likely be the largest use of the deceased artist work in the world.


It might not be a paint brush that layers the roof of the Tacoma Dome with artwork by Andy Warhol.

The city hasn’t decided whether to cover the venue with a flower image the pop art icon designed for it decades ago.

But if officials do approve the idea, it could be that an adhesive film with a print of the artwork is used to wrap the building, rather than paint.

A small section of the Dome will get a patch of the material soon, as part of a six-month test to see whether the adhesive film will work, Councilman Marty Campbell said Thursday. He chairs the Economic Development Committee, which got an update on the new test during a meeting Tuesday.

Campbell expects the test to start within the next month or so, when weather is dry enough to apply the patch, which he guesses will be about 6 by 6 feet. It’ll have bright colors, to test whether they fade by this fall.

When the six months are up, Campbell said, he expects discussions to resume about whether to Warhol the Dome.

Wrapping instead of painting it would cost far less, Campbell said. He didn’t immediately know the difference, but said a rough estimate for the wrap is $2.2 million.

The application of a wrap also would be easier.

“Otherwise,” he said, “you’d be painting a massive mural.” Five acres, roughly.

The bill would be footed by private donations.

Which Campbell doesn’t expect would be hard to find.

“Given that it’s Warhol, there may be national interest in donating to make it happen,” he said.

But while the Warhol design has support, Campbell said, a successful test of the wrap material doesn’t ensure his design will be used.

“It doesn’t compel us to either go with a large public art piece, such as the Warhol flower, or with something else,” Campbell said.

That being said, he added: “There’s discussion that, if it’s going to be an art project, we have this now extremely famous artist who already presented some design ideas that we could pick up.”

Warhol proposed the design to the city in 1982, five years before his death, as part of an art competition linked to the construction of the Dome. The panel of judges didn’t choose his idea.

Today, the city would save several million dollars in licensing and royalty fees if they used it, Campbell said, though he noted negotiations haven’t officially started about what the exact cost for using Warhol’s image would be.

“It was designed for this,” Campbell said. “The Andy Warhol Foundation has expressed preliminary interest in seeing this happen.”

City arts administrator Amy McBride said she plans to let the foundation know the city is going to run the wrap test: “To make sure they’re aware that we’re getting there.”

Local Rainier Industries has partnered with Minneapolis-based 3M to come up with the “ecofriendly” test material, McBride said.

The test wrap won’t be obvious, but when they pick a spot, it should be visible to those looking for it.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268

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