Client: City of Aberdeen WA
Location: Portland, OR, United States
Completion date: 2013
Artwork budget: $115,000
Adam Kuby LLC
4Culture & City of Aberdeen, WA
Stone Sculptures Inc
When Aberdeen’s historic 1909 high school burned down in 2002 the city salvaged many of the carved sandstone blocks from the ruins, but without knowing how they might be reused. They then put out an RFQ for artists to propose how to repurpose them.
Inspired by the stones themselves and craftsmen who carved them, I reimagined the blocks taking the form of a cresting ocean wave sited along this coastal town’s main thoroughfare.
The challenge was to reuse all of the 309 salvaged sandstone blocks that were originally part of the school's lintels, cornices, thresholds, balustrades and decorative facade panels and saved by the City after the fire. The site for the artwork was a busy intersection along Aberdeen's main drag. I conceived of a cresting ocean wave as a new symbol for this coastal community––and a second life for the sandstone blocks that were quarried from the nearby mountains, carved into beautiful forms, incorporated into a significant work of architecture, now part of an artwork––and that will sometime in the distant future to return to the sea, grain of sand by grain of sand.
I worked with City staff to site artwork within a busy right-of-way and address safety issues such as site lines for vehicle and pedestrians. The wave form is supported by an earth berm that is planted with blue-hued native grasses and ground covers on the back side to reinforce the maritime feel. I worked with landscape architect Gerald Mertl on the plantings.