This is nuts!
City will honor its history with filbert-inspired art on Main Street next year
Things are getting a little bit nutty on Southwest Main Street.
Plans are in the works to install several large filbert seeds at each end of Tigards small downtown core, as the city takes its first steps into the world of public art.
Sketches for the art pieces were unveiled at a special meeting of the City Center Advisory Commissionon Monday night. The commission is tasked with improving Tigards downtown.
The plan is to construct at least two large sculptures at each end of Main Street and Pacific Highway, to Liberty Park next the citys large Christmas tree, and at the southern end, near St. Anthony Catholic School.
Tigard has little public art as it stands today, but the hope is to install the art pieces sometime over the next year, and add other smaller art pieces in downtown over the next several years.
Brian Borello, the the Portland artist and educator hired in Decembter to work on the sculptures for years , said the filberts are inspired by Tigards history.
I felt that this was fairly iconic and deserves a little attention, he said. A lot of the houses that you live in were built on what were once filbert orchards.
Its an unusual subject to sculpt, Borello admits, but hazelnuts are a big part of Tigards history, and Borello said he wanted to build something that stands out against the rest of Pacific Highway.
This has to exist next to the McDonalds golden arches, he said.
Conventional public art is people on horseback with swords and beards. I like that idea that were elevating these natural forms to a place of prominence and a place of respect.
The art will be installed in conjunction with large gateway signs, similar to one on Southwest Burnham Street and Hall Boulevard, welcoming people downtown.
Plans are for the 14-foot-tall nuts to pulse with a reddish glow at night, Borello said, to help catch peoples attention.
I want something that announces by day and by night that you have arrived, he said.
Active urban village
The city commissioned the $60,000 public art project in November to spruce things up near the downtown core. The art is meant to catch the attention of passing motorists, as well as be engaging to pedestrians walking in the area, and invite people to explore Main Street.
One of the things that I felt really strongly about was to create something that tapped into Tigards identity, said Borello. But that is complicated, because at what point do we establish that identity? Is it in prehistory? The settlement period? The 20th century and beyond? I wanted to find something universal. Something that speaks to the deeper history of what Tigard is and was and can be.
The artwork is paid for through the citys urban renewal fund, said Sean Farrelly, the citys downtown redevelopment director.
But public art is just part of a large plan help revitalize the citys long-struggling downtown.
Construction on Southwest Main Street will likely take off next summer, involving months of heavy duty work to transform much of the street into a more pedestrian-friendly shopping district, widening sidewalks, adding green amenities such as storm runoff and street-side trees and restoring Fanno Creek.
This week the city unveiled a new public parking lot at the corner of Burnham and Main streets, which adds an additional 19 spaces for shoppers and employees, something property owners have said is badly needed downtown.
In the future, the city plans to install a public plaza downtown, expand Fanno Creek Park and add more public art in the coming years.
Borello has a lot to achieve with his designs. City leaders said the pieces should reflect the downtown core 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.
Borello isnt a stranger to public art projects in the Portland area. He designed the large flowering art fixtures at the Lents Town Center MAX station, as well as MAX stations near the Rose Garden, which feature large tree-like sculptures that glow at night.
For his Lents Hybrids piece at the Lents Town Center, Borello created tall green and yellow flower-like sculptures, which he said reflected the long native grasses that once grew in the area.
Construction could delay unveiling
The piece should be finished by this winter, Farrelly said, but likely wont be installed until after construction on Southwest Main Street wraps up.
That timeline is in a bit of flux, Farrelly said. Construction on Main Street could start as early as January, but likely wont start until next summer. The southern gateway area will be used for staging during construction, he said, right where the art will be installed.
So we wont be able to install the pieces until construction is over, Farrelly said. Well most likely have to store the pieces at the city for a few months.
The city could install the pieces at Main Streets northern end earlier, Farrelly said, if it makes financial sense.
The last thing I expected
Borello and Tigard city officials stress these are still early days for the project, and the finished sculptures could look different from these initial plans, but members of the City Center Advisory Commission which is in charge of the project said Monday that they couldnt be happier with the designs.
Its a real natural for me, said commission member Sherrie Devaney. That was the last thing I expected, but I grew up on a filbert orchard and the second Brian pulled out his idea I fell in love with it.
Its also a big hit with the hazelnut industry.
Thats fantastic, said Mike Klein, associate director of the Hazelnut Industry Office, which was based in Tigard before moving to Aurora a decade ago.
The Industry Office is home to the Hazelnut Marketing Board, the Oregon Hazelnut Commission, the Associated Oregon Hazelnut Industries and the Nut Growers Society of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.
All of the hazelnuts produced in the U.S. are grown in the Pacific Northwest, Klein said, and 99 percent of those come from the Willamette Valley.
Hazelnuts played a part in Tigards history, to be sure.
Tigard was home to several filbert orchards for years, and orchards are still scattered on Bull Mountain and the surrounding area.
There are still hazelnut trees throughout the city, said Klein, who lives in Tualatin. You find them in backyard and parks and open spaces.
Member Sharon Francis said she was ready for the next steps.
I love what he has done and Im excited to see what happens, she said. I am blown away that he took all those ideas and came up with this nut, literally, for us to work with.
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