A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Public art project: ODOT gives its consent

Written March 19th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

Looking south toward the Pacific Boulevard off-ramp to Lyon Street on Wednesday afternoon.

Somewhere on or near this corner, the city of Albany wants to place a big metal sculpture of wildflowers. So, to think about something other than the corona contagion for a minute, how is that coming along?

An ordinance passed in 1998 obligated he city council to spend 1 percent of the cost of the police and fire construction projects in 2017 on public art. As one part of that, the city entered into an $80,000 contract with South Carolina artist DeeDee Morrison to design and build a sculpture.

Last September, the city council asked the Oregon Department of Transportation to allow the sculpture to be placed on the the state’s right of way near the Lyon Street off-ramp of Pacific Boulevard. This was an iffy proposition considering that ODOT had earlier turned down a downtown wayfinding sign in the same grassy area as too distracting.

“We actually got approval from ODOT earlier this month,” Parks and Recreation Director Kim Lyddane reported this morning.

In September she had said the city would not ask the artist to start making the sculpture until ODOT approved the location, and she hoped the work might be ready for installation as early as April 2020. But the situation has changed.

“We are working with the artist now to determine if any modifications need to take place to the original design as many material costs have increased since the original bid,” Lyddane wrote in an email. “As a team, we are starting to develop what a new timeline could look like for installation. I hope to know more in the coming weeks.”

The original design was for an array of Oregon wildflowers up to 12 feet tall, with the outlines of pollinating bugs laser-cut into the metal petals. LED lights in changing colors were to be part of the design. Now we’ll have to wait and see what the final design will be, assuming the project still goes ahead. (hh)

6 responses to “Public art project: ODOT gives its consent”

  1. Chuck Finley says:

    My only question would be why select an artist on the opposite side of the country? Transportation for a piece that large will be ridiculous. There are many great artists here in Oregon.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      As I recall, it was an open-bid process with RFP. I don’t remember it being limited to OR artists only…

    • Dara says:

      So sad! So many incredible artists in Oregon! I wonder what made them go with out of state ? I can’t wait to see what it looks like !

  2. Johnny Van Ras says:

    I was under the impression that Albany has healthcare and budget issues that are far more important than some sculpture. Deerfield Park is in serious need of art(?) as it relates to new / undated playground equipment.

  3. MsJ says:

    “An ordinance passed in 1998 obligated (t)he city council to spend 1 percent of the cost of the police and fire construction projects in 2017 on public art.”

    So important in the midst of the mayor recently declaring a state of emergency.

    How about re-thinking this 22 year-old obligation & put the money towards a real, here & now, Pandemic emergency.

    If Trump can use a 1950 Defense Production Act to require factories to accelerate their normal production to support critical medical equipment needed or even ask/demand that factories manufacture equipment they’re not even tooled for, then this art requirement and the money for it can either wait or be reallocated entirely.

    Even the contracted artist could grasp the concept and maybe even support it.

    Gawd this is stupid.

  4. Jim Engel says:

    Why plunk it down in a place that’s very difficult to park & walk to? Besides, it may prove to being a distraction to drivers coming down a tricky avenue. It will in time be another thing that will need maintenance & be an additional burden on a strapped for cash Parks Dept.


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