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Gallery Without Walls honored

by: Vern Uyetake, 
Complement II by Washington artist Merrilee Moore at A Avenue and Second Street is part of the city’s award-winning Gallery Without Walls.

Lake Oswego's Gallery Without Walls has drawn national recognition.

On June 25 at the United States Conference of Mayors City Livability Awards in Los Angeles, the city's outdoor rotating art exhibit received the Honorable Mention Award for cities with populations less than 100,000.

The awards honor mayors for leadership in developing and implementing programs that improve the quality of life in America's cities.

An independent panel of judges, selected by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, determined the winning cities from a pool of more than 200 applicants. Winners were chosen based on three criteria: Mayoral leadership, creativity and innovation, and broad impact on the quality of life for residents.

'This award means a great deal to the foundation,' said Heather Chrisman, chair of the Lake Oswego Foundation for the Arts. 'The Gallery Without Walls program has added a real vitality to the city.'

Lake Oswego's Gallery Without Walls is an outdoor sculpture collection comprised of permanent and rotating sculptures.

The permanent works are owned by the city of Lake Oswego and will always be on view. The rotating collection is on-loan from each sculptor for two years and is available for purchase from the artists through the Lake Oswego Foundation of the Arts.

The greatest concentration of the sculptures can be found on A Avenue, where there are about a dozen between First and Fifth streets.

Freedom Ciavarello, a barrista at the Blue Joe coffee stand at Second Street and A Avenue, said the sculptures bring levity and whimsicality to a commercial corridor and remind workers that life's 'not that bad.'

'They add a lot of humility to the business aspect of the city,' Ciavarello said.

Susan Bitzer, director of Lake Oswego Foundation for the Arts, said the city had 44 sculptures in 2006 and will have 55 this year.

Once a year, the foundation sponsors a people's choice award to select a sculpture that will be purchased by the city. Maria Wickwire's 'Anillos' was selected this year.

'We're thrilled that the city has received this honor and that the community's interest and desire for art in Lake Oswego has made this possible,' said Bitzer. 'It's rewarding to know that the efforts of the city and foundation are valued and we hope to continue to bring art to the city in many forms in the years to come.'

The foundation is preparing for installation of a new group of rotating sculptures.

One Lake Oswego resident was so enamored by Heidi Erickson's 'Reinventing the Wheel' at Second and B that she rushed to purchase and install the sculpture in her backyard before her Fourth of July party, Bitzer said.