Removing the Sculpture



All good things must come to an end, even temporary wall sculptures. Art in Rural Communities 2016-2017 was installed for 5 months in Halsey Oregon. Monday morning I removed my portion, “From the Land”, and brought it home.

Was it a success? How does one measure a success?? It’s difficult to tell from a small town. I don’t live there and have very little contact with residents. The few people I talked with REALLY loved the piece. One of the public works people wanted to purchase individual panels. He also wanted to make a template from one of the long panels in order to cut a metal duplicate (for one of the town residents). Hmmm, I did the design work and he wants to copy that design to make a duplicate for free. Not quite fair in my brain. I spent hours doing research and design for each panel and I won’t be giving anything away without fair payment. The limited funds I did receive certainly didn’t cover much when you account for research, design and fabrication (plus new machinery and supplies). This will most likely be my final entry into AIRC.  If I created less expensive work that didn’t suck the life out of me, then things might go a different direction. However, I’m an overachiever. Even with little funding I want to create work that I’m proud of and will push myself hard to achieve that level.


Winter might not be the best time to display such a project. Shorter days and nasty weather certainly puts a damper on wanting to visit outdoor art. The piece was up during some impressive winter storms and SURVIVED! Big windstorms, ice, and snow confronted the west facing wall. Damage was minor and confined to warped plywood. Additional screws, along with more paint layers, could have prevented that issue . The main cutouts were fine. Even the skinny-cut portions had no visible damage. Besides the weather, another potential destructive force were the side mirrors on the semi-trucks pulling up alongside the building. Notice the arrow pointing down on the side mirror, about 12″ from my work. I’m so amazed it didn’t get scraped off the wall by a driver! Five months and no damage! Hurray!


An ugly empty space now prevails on the long wall. Weathered outlines remind residents of what was there. The life, color & energy Bonnie and I created is gone. I feel sad for the librarian, TJ, who now has an empty view. Maybe more appreciation has been stirred for exterior public art and the difference it can make in small towns. Of course, with the new partial administration and POTUS, national funding for ANY arts could be cut from the budget (and would then have to rely completely on public support).


How aware are people of the arts in their communities? What would happen if all art was removed? What if clothing designs disappeared? Architecture? Theater? Music? Dance? Literature? Fine Arts? Life certainly wouldn’t be life without creativity and the arts. I’ve always wanted to go around town and cover everything art related with sheets to bolster awareness. Nothing beautiful like the Christo’s draping of buildings. Cover everything in grey or black. Would that wake people up to what the arts do for society? It would be an interesting experiment….

Published by paperstew

I'm an artist in Albany Oregon focusing on paper and natural objects for inspiration.

5 thoughts on “Removing the Sculpture

  1. Glad you didn’t give away your design. It’s very true that sometimes some people don’t appreciate art and creativity until they’re gone. However, as often as I have felt this way about my own art every now and then some small event or coincedence will remind me that it was or is appreciated. I know you were musing and not so much complaining but every now and then some small thing like even the smile in a child’s eye will remind me that my work, your work and all creativity are deeply treasured by someone. A life was changed. Hope my comment was not too long. Keep up the good work!! :^)

    1. Kevin, thank you for your wonderful comment. You nailed it!
      I’ve already heard from the other artist who had a conversation with one of the warehouse employees and he was shocked the project was coming down. They thought it was permanent. 😦
      This small town was extremely lucky to have it up for 5 months when the original contract was for only 3. Fortunately, the warehouse manager requested it to remain for up to 6 months max.
      I was glad to have some lovely connections with people in town. They were so enthusiastic. That made the project worth my effort.
      Thanks again for your comment!

    1. I did consider that, but we’re still working on the exterior paint. Maybe next year! It’s currently dismantled and above the garage.

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