Sculpting a future in art
I squinted into the distance. An enormous figure appeared to be hugging the edge of the sidewalk in Chelan PUD’s Riverfront Park. As I got closer, the rust-patina object came into focus. When I reached its base, I looked up. It must’ve been the size of a bear standing on its hind legs. The sculpture looked like three vintage console television sets working on a balancing act.
It turned out to be one of the 88 sculptures brought to the Greater Wenatchee community by Art on the Avenues (AOTA).
Towering pieces like View through the Open Window and smaller sculptures such as Single Point highlight the range of inspiration that has come from this program in the last 23 years.
Visitors can take a walking tour of the sculptures in Wenatchee’s Riverfront Park. Grab a guide from one of the AOTA boxes along the Apple Capital loop trail. Visitor or community member, young or old, background aside, differences are bridged by a connection with art.
“There were a handful of us who had a vision back in 1995 to bring public art – lots of public art – to our magnificent valley,” Art on the Avenues founder Adele Wolford reflected. “We knew how important quality of life is to people who live and visit here, and we wanted to share the beauty of the many bronze sculptures in the collection.” Wolford and her team extended the reach public art into local elementary schools.
Building brains with bronze
Many local fifth-graders get a chance to find out what it takes to be a professional artist. Through the Beauty of Bronze program, almost 600 fifth-graders get to sculpt and showcase their artwork every year.
The program’s success can be attributed to its 14-year stay in the community. In one of its first years I took part in the project as a 5th-grader. I got started right away, sculpting like a mad scientist. At last, my work was complete. A small, bronze, smiling chameleon was brought to life.
Looking back, and with a little sculpting experience, I believe that the quantity of sculptures speaks to our valley’s inclusiveness and willingness to add to the quality of life we value so deeply. According to AOTA’s website, its mission is to provide communities with sustainable, innovative, and educational programs through the exhibition and sale of sculptures.
For more information visit the AOTA website http://artontheavenues.org/
Skylar Lewis Randall is a senior at UW Bothell and a Communications intern for Chelan PUD.