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Puget Sound creatures inspire new art along Thea Foss in downtown Tacoma

Joyce and John Ribble, of Indianapolis, Indiana, examine up close a newly installed work of art by Tacoma artist Ed Kroupa. “I think they are wonderful,” said Joyce Ribble of “Floating Life Forms,” a series of six bronze spheres that depict marine life native to the Puget Sound.
Joyce and John Ribble, of Indianapolis, Indiana, examine up close a newly installed work of art by Tacoma artist Ed Kroupa. “I think they are wonderful,” said Joyce Ribble of “Floating Life Forms,” a series of six bronze spheres that depict marine life native to the Puget Sound. Staff photographer

Some of the creatures from Puget Sound have — in an artistic sense — leaped out of the water and onto Thea Foss Esplanade.

People strolling down the walkway in downtown Tacoma will now see six hollow bronze spheres decorated with harbor seals, octopus, sea stars and more.

The pieces, created by Tacoma artist Ed Kroupa and dubbed “Floating Life Forms,” are part of the city’s efforts to beautify and to help train artists.

The artwork “speaks to our interdependence with aquatic life and healthy ecosystems, and encourages public interaction,” said Su Dowie, executive director of the Foss Waterway Development Authority.

The Tacoma Arts Commission in 2012 selected Kroupa through its Public Art: In Depth program, which teaches local artists how to make art for the public rather than solely go off their own creative vision.

Kroupa interviewed people around Thea Foss Waterway and researched the site before creating “Floating Life Forms,” which the Arts Commission later approved.

Funds from a program that takes 1 percent from construction projects and diverts it to public art paid for the artwork, which cost $25,000.

“We got a really great price for the piece,” said Rebecca Solverson, a public arts specialist with the city. “It’s a really great statement about the connection with the water that’s right there.”

The pieces were installed Monday and a dedication will be held at 5 p.m. Oct. 15 behind the Esplanade Condos, 1515 Dock St.

The bronze spheres range in weight from 120 pounds to 500 pounds and are spread out along the walkway to make them appear as if they could be individual pieces.

Kroupa said the spheres transform into buoys representing people who interact with the Thea Foss Waterway.

“Each sphere appears to exist solely on its own, but in truth depends upon the others for survival in the larger scope of Puget Sound,” reads a plaque that will be installed with the artwork.

The artwork quickly drew attention from some passersby, who stopped to run their hands over the bronze and snap photos.

“I think they are wonderful,” said Joyce Ribble, who was visiting from Indianapolis, Indiana.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

stacia.glenn@thenewstribune.com

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