Three new sculptures, part of the Big Art project, have recently been installed in Hood River, thanks to the hard work and generosity of the “Art of Community” volunteers and local sponsors.
“Art of Community” was established in 2014. Their mission statement says, “Public art creates and enhances neighborhood and community identity. It enhances the visual landscape and character of the city. It turns ordinary spaces into community landmarks and promotes community dialogue and, most importantly, it is accessible to everyone.”
Artist Lillian Pitt’s “Big River Woman” overlooks the Port of Hood River waterfront trail near Nichol’s boat basin and serves as a quiet sentinel, a contrast to the flurry of summer activity in this area of the city. The bronze sculpture, on loan from local art collector David Radcliffe, pays tribute to Pitt’s Pacific Northwest Native American heritage. Her art honors the history and legends of her people. Those familiar with Pitt’s work may recognize, in the sculpture’s face, some design similarities to “She Who Watches,” a well-known ancient Columbia River petroglyph.
Pitt works in a variety of media, but chose bronze as the medium for “Big River Woman.” Of the material, she said, “I use bronze for some of my works of art because it’s rock solid and lasts forever … I like creating art using bronze because it has a great deal of ‘heft.’ It reminds me of the rock media that my ancestors used in creating their rock carvings and paintings for so many thousands of years. And so, I feel that the use of bronze is a kind of testimony to the longevity of my people … working in bronze helps me to stay in touch with the idea that some things are meant to last forever.”
Pitt’s sculpture will remain on public view through 2021, when it will return to live with Radcliffe at his home in Hood River.
He said, “I think very highly of Lillian’s work. I’ve always thought ‘Big River Woman’ would be a great piece to share with the community.”
Local sculptor CJ Rench returns to the Big Art walking tour with a new piece entitled “Constellations,” a large triptych installed at the northwest end of the Union Building, just outside the firm of Peachey, Davies, Myers & Dunn LLC.
Originally from Illinois, Rench is a self-taught industrial engineer and designer. He creates large scale abstract metal sculpture for both public and private collections.
He recently completed a skate park installation jointly commissioned by Seattle Parks and Recreation and Red Bull. The Seattle park, he said, “explores the intersection of art, athleticism and imagination.” In addition to his Hood River projects and Seattle’s skate park, Rench has created 32 public works in 19 different states.
Rench’s concept for “Constellations” was to create a three-dimensional image of the abstract forms in his imagination when looking at stars. He wondered how it would look to turn them into tangible forms, and hopes viewers will use their own imaginations when stopping to gaze at his celestial forms.
Stars were also on the mind of California artist Catherine Daley when she created “Cosmos: Starry, Starry Night,” an homage to her late sister Patricia Quinn (affectionately known as “Twinkles”), who died unexpectedly as Daley was completing the piece. The title also refers to Vincent van Gogh’s famous painting and its “swirls of energy in the sky.”
Daley writes, “‘Cosmos: Starry, Starry Night’ is the sixth piece in my Aurora series and alludes not only to the aurora borealis’ curtain of light, but also to the formation of a spiral galaxy.”
She continues, “The Plexiglas rods play with the idea of musical scales and chimes, and catch light when illuminated by the sun or artificial lighting. The work also references water, icicles, and even stalactites.”
“Cosmos: Starry, Starry Night” was made possible by a group of supportive local families. View this sculpture on Second Street across from city hall.
A total of 28 Big Art pieces will be on display throughout the city of Hood River until 2021. Bilingual maps are being published, and will be available for free. The entire Big Art project is made possible through the generosity of local businesses, private donors, Hood River public agencies and foundations.