The Library commissioned three sculptures and purchased portable artwork for new libraries. The library elected to mirror the City of Spokane’s public art policy, which requires one percent of the construction budget be dedicated to public art. The artwork is one component of a much larger project, a $77 million, voter-approved bond to remodel four existing libraries and build three new ones. In commissioning artwork, Spokane Public Library aims to create a friendly, engaging atmosphere for visitors of all ages and backgrounds. Each sculpture is site-specific, meaning it was designed specifically for the Library location where it will be installed, using input from the Library staff and board members, building architects, construction team, city arts commissioners, and more. Details of each piece are featured below!
“Hoop” at Liberty Park Library
The sculpture entitled “Hoop” is a colorful, large-scale embroidery hoop, created by Shawn Parks, with a stitch pattern on the surface that pays homage to the Spokane river. Parks drew on his own experiences with libraries to create a playful piece of art inspired by the library’s mission. “Growing up as a queer, nonbinary kid, libraries were a safe place for me. I would escape to the library, losing myself in books and National Geographic magazines, where I was exposed to countless worlds beyond my rough neighborhood,” Parks says. “Libraries are incredible community assets, and providing free access to learning and technology is a form of caretaking; it is nurturing and loving at its core. We often devalue the importance of caretaking in our culture, so I wanted to create a work that is grounded in that, and at the end of the day, I want to add joy and thread humor (pun intended) with serious ideas. My hope is that ‘Hoop’ makes people smile.”
Installation was completed on this piece at the Liberty Park Library, currently under construction in the East Central neighborhood. Washington State artist Shawn Parks was commissioned by Spokane Public Library and Spokane Arts to create the piece. Parks was selected through a juried process that began with an open call for artists in October 2020. The artist and fabricator team worked on-site in June to install the sculpture. Liberty Park Library construction is anticipated to be complete in fall 2021.
“Shimmer” at Central Library
Artist John Rogers, of Portland, OR, is creating a stunning piece for the Central Library, called “Shimmer”. The sculpture is “S” shaped, which creates a moire effect when viewed from certain angles. The wave configuration is inspired by the Falls and boulders in the surrounding area. The sculpture highlights that inspiration with over three hundred individual dichroic glass shapes forming a wave that shimmers like water cascading in sunlight. This piece will be installed in early 2022.
“Untitled” at Shadle Park Library
Artist Jasmine Iona Brown of Tacoma, WA, is creating a multifaceted sculpture of diverse people sitting in the grass reading. These figures will be located in the grass outside the Shadle Park Library. Installation of this piece will be completed in fall 2021.
As part of the public art budget, portable works were also selected. Portable works are paintings or sculptures that are not permanently installed in any location and may change locations periodically. The call for portable works was limited to Spokane residents, and women and BIPOC artists were encouraged to apply. In total, 55 Spokane artists applied to the call and the selection panel selected artwork by 19 different artists. More than 30 percent of pieces approved for purchase were by artists of color or Indigenous artists, and represent a range of ages. Here are a few of the pieces selected:
Many volunteers assisted with the art selection process, including Library representatives, city arts commissioners, and community members with arts expertise. Selection panelists included Andrew Chanse, Remelisa Cullitan, Mark Dailey, Amanda Donovan, Mary Starkey, Carl Richardson, Eva Silverstone, and Andrew Whitver. The art selection process was facilitated by Spokane Arts, who is managing all three public art projects along with the purchase, framing, and installation of portable art at multiple branches.