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Sculptor's work lights up city's art scene

Hillsboro sculptor Devin Laurence Field said he doesn’t mind donating a substantial amount of his time and effort on an interactive art project for the Hillsboro Hops baseball stadium, but he freely admits that being a philanthropic hero was not his original intent.

Field, who specializes in large-scale metal sculptures, will soon have his artwork on display in front of the stadium being built for Hillsboro’s new minor league team. But he pointed out he didn’t go into the project with purely altruistic thoughts.

“I was asked to apply for consideration of my work,” Field explained. “They had a modest budget but a very wide open space. Something small was not going to look good there.”

A total of $50,000 was originally budgeted for artwork to enhance the $15.2 million stadium going up in the Gordon Faber Recreational Complex in Hillsboro, but rather than create artwork to fit an arbitrary $50,000 budget, Field decided to design the project he wanted to see there.

“I’d rather do something at a little more expense and make no profit than downsize it, but that was not my original intent,” Field said. “I have to make a living like everyone else.”

Valerie Otani, supervisor of the Hillsboro Arts & Culture Council, said whether Field wants credit for it or not, the bottom line is he selflessly made a major contribution to the project.

“He donated his artist’s fee, which is pretty unusual,” Otani said.

Otani said the city invited 20 artists who had experience with projects on that scale, and 14 applied. After looking over the proposals, Field’s design was chosen by a selection panel that included parks department representatives, independent artists and arts council members.

“Everybody is so excited,” Otani said. “There has been a tremendous response from everyone who has seen the design. It’s the first major public art project for the city of Hillsboro on this scale. We’re excited it will be part of a recreational complex used by families and people of all ages, and it’s really an opportunity to add an extra layer of experience to that facility.”

The new stadium is right down the street from where Field lives, and that factored into his decision to pursue the project despite the relative lack of financial return. He explained that he liked the idea of being able to see one of his projects in use.

“A lot of work I do is overseas or out of the state,” Field explained. “Normally I apply for projects with bigger budgets, but this one is close to home and they wanted some of my work, which was nice.”

Field said his sculpture, which will be made primarily of stainless steel, will measure about 16 feet tall and 12 feet across, and will feature a sound-activated LED light display.

When Field discussed adding interactive colored lighting that responds to sound, the owners of the baseball team, Mike and Laura McMurray, thought that was such a good idea they offered to put up another $10,000 to pay for the lighting. But even at $60,000, Field said the cost of the work was not fully covered.

“The budget was set at the very beginning, but for the complexity of it, with computers and interactive lighting, the normal cost would be well over $100,000,” Field said.

Field said his sculpture, which he has named “Barometer,” will be innovative.

“This is pretty unique for the Northwest, for several reasons,” he said. “There is very little color-illuminated sculpture in the Northwest, and even less interactive art. There will be sound-activated instruments inside the sculpture, and as people create noise, it lights up.

“That’s really fun for kids, to not only play but also have something happen. It adds a sense of discovery for kids.”

Otani said one of the goals of the Hillsboro Public Art Master Plan is to use “art to express the civic identity of Hillsboro” and to “create inviting places for people to gather, connect to each other and their community.” She believes Field’s work helps realize that goal.

“This artwork will create just that kind of memorable gathering place — with the energy of creating sounds and light with both friends and strangers,” Otani said.

According to Field, part of the reason most of his artwork is purchased for use overseas is because the United States lags when it comes to developing the latest technologies.

“There is a lot more going on in Asia,” Field said. “The U.S. is so far behind, and a lot of high-tech manufacturing is being done elsewhere. The bulk of infrastructure development in the last 10 years is happening in Asia, especially in China. No other country on Earth has that level of development.”

Field said he was happy to support the Hillsboro Hops baseball team, but a love of baseball was not necessarily behind his decision to donate his time.

“I like all of sports, but I grew up in New Zealand, and we don’t play baseball in New Zealand,” he said.

Field faces an early June deadline to have the artwork finished so it can be erected in time for the Hops’ June 17 home opener against the Eugene Emeralds.

“It will be tight,” Field said. “I have five other projects running right now. It will be a very busy spring.”




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