Dome would pop out with Warhol’s blooming design

Even admirers of the Tacoma Dome have to admit that it can look a little, well, dingy – especially after it’s been a while since its last cleaning.

So there’s something appealing about a privately funded proposal to give the roof a different look for three to five years. And not just any look; it would be one of the original public art designs proposed for the dome.

Back in 1982, internationally famous pop artist Andy Warhol submitted one of the public art proposals for the Dome as part of the city’s 1 Percent for Art program. According to Warhol, who died in 1987, a huge flower would cover the entire surface: “The center of the flower would be at the top of dome with large wide petals covering the circumferance of the dome.”

Included was a full-color rendering of the flower in orange and yellow hues – a little reminiscent of a daffodil – though it appears from the language of the proposal that the final color could be up for discussion.

A proposal by the late neon artist Stephen Antonakos eventually was selected to go inside the Dome; the contractor said he couldn’t guarantee the integrity of the Dome if any artwork were placed on the roof. But that was before the advent of modern vinyl wraps, such as those that now commonly envelope buses and even entire buildings with advertising or art.

Now a group of arts supporters wants to make Warhol’s original design blossom on the Tacoma Dome roof, and the City Council has given the go-ahead to seek licensing rights from the Warhol foundation and start raising money.

The group believes $5.1 million would fund installation of the flower on the Dome’s 6.5-acre roof, twice-yearly cleanings, a fund-raising employee, the cost of removal and a contingency fund. The money would be raised through a Warhol fund established by the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation.

If the plan comes to fruition, the Dome would be the largest installation in the world of a Warhol work. That would be quite a coup for Tacoma. Warhol’s art is still much in demand, commanding astronomical prices. In recent years, pieces have sold for up to $105.4 million.

Now Tacoma has a chance it missed out on 33 years ago to give one of the world’s most influential artists perhaps the biggest canvas possible. It would proclaim Tacoma’s special link to the arts, which has driven the city’s downtown renaissance. That would surely be more valuable than a mere “15 minutes of fame,” as Warhol famously put it.

How appropriate it would be to have the Warhol flower in place in 2017 – the 30th anniversary of the artist’s death. Good luck to those supporting this worthy venture.