City plans two large installations to enhance gateway

Next summer, drivers along Highway 99W might notice something different on the entrances to Southwest Main Street in Tigard.

The city is commissioning a $60,000 public art project to spruce things up near the downtown core, said Sean Farrelly, Tigard’s redevelopment project manager.

The goal is to build two large public art pieces on each end of Main Street along Pacific Highway.

The city received 60 applications from artists across the west coast interested in the project, Farrelly said. Farrelly told the Tigard City Council in a study session Tuesday that officials had narrowed the applicants down to four finalists, who the city plans to interview this month.

There’s no limit to what the installation might look like, Farrelly said, but the art should draw people into the downtown.

“It’s all pretty open right now,” Farrelly told The Times last month. “The general intent is some piece that will be large enough to catch the eye of people driving by, but also enjoyed by pedestrians (who) should be able to interact with it.”

Farrelly said that the art pieces should put Main Street back on people’s radar.

The downtown core has struggled to gain customers for years, and the city and other local groups are working to redevelop the area.

“People should see the art and think that downtown’s an interesting place to be, and they’ll want to check it out and check out the art,” Farrelly said.

And with 45,000 cars passing by on Pacific Highway every day, Farrelly said, the art will become a significant visual landmark.

The project will be paid for by funds from the downtown Urban Renewal District, Farrelly said.

In a notice to artists, city officials said that the art project should show downtown Tigard as a “vibrant and active urban village at the heart of the community that is pedestrian-oriented, accessible by many modes of transportation, recognizes and uses natural resources as an asset and features a combination of uses that enable people to live, work, play and shop in an environment that is uniquely Tigard.”

That’s quite a lot for one piece of art to say, Farrelly admitted.

“It will be interesting to see what the proposals are,” he said.

Farrelly said there’s a chance that future art projects could be installed downtown along Main Street or near Fanno Creek.

“I have a lot of confidence in these artists after looking at 300 images they’ve proposed,” said City Councilor Marland Henderson, who worked with the project’s creators to narrow the field to the four finalists.

“The idea is for people to see the art and say ‘I wonder if there’s more on Main Street,’” Henderson told the council during Tuesday’s work session.

Farrelly agreed. “That’s the idea,” he said.

The art will be in conjunction with two large gateway signs, similar to one on Southwest Burnham Street and Hall Boulevard. The art pieces will likely be installed next summer.

A citizen committee will interview the finalists before eventually making a recommendation to the City Council.

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