New art is catching the eyes of locals at Pioneer Park in Puyallup.
Puyallup’s Arts Downtown, an all-volunteer organization that supports local art, installed four new sculptures in Pioneer Park on Sunday as part of its 2017-2019 Rotating Art Collection.
“The aim is not only to bring new art into the community and make it available, but … to refresh the display,” said Arts Downtown president David DeGroot.
Currently, Arts Downtown has 53 pieces of art on display around Puyallup, most of them residing in Pioneer Park. Four of those pieces will rotate after two years, while the remaining 49 are permanent pieces that occasionally change location.
53 total Downtown Arts pieces on display in Puyallup
“Whenever we put new (art) in, we have to move others around,” DeGroot said. “(People) see a new piece and maybe see (old pieces) for the first time.”
“It’s like department stores,” added Arts Downtown member Babbette Kunkle. “It’s the same merchandise, we just move it around so people get excited.”
Arts Downtown launched its rotating gallery in 1995. At first, the organization installed more than a dozen pieces every year. That has since been reduced to five new pieces every two years.
The organization opened submissions for new art in 2016 and was met with an overwhelming response.
“This year was tough because we had so many pieces,” Kunkle said. “We had 81 pieces.”
Submissions went through three Arts Downtown committees before five were chosen. One sculpture was sold elsewhere by the artist prior to installation, so only four new pieces were installed.
C.J. Rench’s sculpture, “Ta-Da,” towers more than 11 feet and replaced Jim Johnson’s “Ballerina” sculpture near the Puyallup Public Library. “Ballerina” was moved to another site in the park.
Made out of mild steel, “Ta-Da” features two figures playing and was inspired by Rench’s playtime with his daughter, who used to call him “Ta-Da” when she was 2 years old. The Hood River, Oregon resident left his corporate job as a designer 13 years ago to create his art full-time, and sells his “Ta-Da” art series across the Pacific Northwest.
‘Ta-Da’ was completely based on the time and play I had with my daughter when she was little... Anytime that we can put a ‘Ta-Da’ sculpture in a park where there are kids around, it’s wonderful.
C.J. Rench, artist
“‘Ta-Da’ was completely based on the time and play I had with my daughter when she was little,” said Rench, 50. “Anytime that we can put a ‘Ta-Da’ sculpture in a park where there are kids around, it’s wonderful.”
“Mother Earth,” created by Leavenworth resident Cordelia Bradburn, was sculpted from aluminum and features a baby floating inside a hollow globe. The sculpture was inspired in part by the birth of Bradburn’s grandchild.
“I did the piece to commemorate not only that event, but (the need) to sustain the earth, because she nurtures us,” said Bradburn, 65.
Bradburn has been sculpting for 30 years. One of her previous works, titled “Sudden Inspiration,” is a permanent Arts Downtown piece installed in the Puyallup library parking lot.
Eugene, Oregon resident Allan Sieradski’s “Solar Eclipse” was the third new piece, installed near Puyallup City Hall.
“This garden sculpture was inspired by the dance of solar flares visible during a solar eclipse,” said Sieradski, 76. “The carved hemispherical basin and the golden veins in the Portoro Buono marble combine to model the effect."
Edmonds resident David Varnau’s “Joie de Vivre,” meaning “Joy of Life” in French, is a bronze statue featuring a young girl with her arms outstretched. It was the fourth new piece installed by the kids spray park.
‘Joie de Vivre’ is a phrase that’s used to describe that sense of joy that we occasionally feel that’s visceral and yet fleeting. What this sculpture does is capture that moment ... What I would hope is that it would be an invitation for (people) to pause and savor life.
David Varnau, artist
“‘Joie de Vivre’ is a phrase that’s used to describe that sense of joy that we occasionally feel that’s visceral and yet fleeting. What this sculpture does is capture that moment,” said Varnau, 66. “What I would hope is that it would be an invitation for (people) to pause and savor life.”
Puyallup Mayor John Hopkins recognized the new artists on installation day. He also recognized two People’s Choice sculptures — Jim Johnson’s “Ballerina,” which was purchased by the city, and Lance Carleton’s “Flat Tire,” which was donated to the city by Arts Downtown.
“Thanks for all the work you do here,” Hopkins said to Arts Downtown members. “What an incredible difference it makes (in Puyallup).”
The four new sculptures will remain in place until the next Arts Downtown rotation cycle in 2019. The pieces will also be featured on Arts Downtown’s mobile tour app.
“I was just really impressed with what the (Puyallup) community created,” said Varnau about Arts Downtown. “I really appreciate public sculpture and I think it adds so much to people’s lives.”