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Artist captures ordinary people in Port Angeles

Tue., Aug. 12, 2008

Sixteen sculptures created for project

PORT ANGELES, Wash. – They know who they are.

And now, so does everyone else.

Ordinary folks doing ordinary things are captured by Port Angeles sculptor Bob Stokes in 16 abstract steel sculptures in 11 settings on the Avenue of the People.

The permanent outdoor art display, funded with $40,000 from city lodging tax revenues and another $20,000 in private donations, is on the west side of North Laurel Street between First Street and Railroad Avenue.

The sculptures were unveiled Saturday evening, during the Heritage Weekend festivities, having been shrouded in sheets since the day before.

Most of those who posed for them were there.

“I didn’t remember being that huge. But I guess I was,” said Lily Neal of Port Angeles.

Neal was a few days away from giving birth to her daughter, Percephone, when she posed for Stokes 14 months ago.

Holding Percephone in her arms, Neal said she posed for the sculpture for her daughter.

“I thought it would be cool to show her when she is older, what a little tiny figure she was in my belly.”

Stokes, who began working on the project in September 2006, said each sculpture is meant to capture an individual’s body language.

“The interpretation you can make when you see it is your own judgment call,” he said.

The sculptures of Port Angeles retirees Jack and Ruth Brown, both 77, are intended to show a couple walking and shopping in downtown Port Angeles.

The two greeted the unveiling with a little dance. They will dance “any place a band plays,” Jack Brown said.

He said they were both excited about participating in the art project.

“Stokes is a leader in the art community. When he asked, I couldn’t say no.”

Another sculpture shows Laura Costello, who works at the First Step Family Support Center in Port Angeles, reaching down to pick up her 2-year-old son, Trevor Martin.

Costello said Stokes came up with the idea because she always had her two children with her whenever she talked with him.

“I was honored when he asked me to be the mother and child,” she said.

“I’m also honored to be immortalized on the streets of Port Angeles.”

Richard Stephens, Peninsula Daily News advertising account executive and Port Angeles Downtown Association board member, spoke about each sculpture at the unveiling with Barbara Frederick, downtown association executive director.

One sculpture shows Stephens and his wife, Liane Stephens, who is partially disabled. He is pushing her in a wheelchair.

“I’m pushing the chair, but she is the strong one,” he said.

The city of Port Angeles owns the sculptures, which will be permanent fixtures downtown.

They join more than 25 other permanent art pieces as part of the Art on the Town project.

To create the figures, Stokes made miniature versions of his subjects in cardboard.

The negative pieces of cardboard were digitized and enlarged at Lincoln Industrial Corp., and the patterns were cut out of steel.

The pieces were assembled in the studio of Port Angeles artist Gray Lucier, using custom tools for bending and folding the steel.

With the help of Lucier and his crew, Stokes welded the pieces together and sandblasted the figures.

Stokes sprayed the figures with a solution that caused them to rust instantaneously.

Port Angeles artist Mike Anderson, who posed for one of the statues, also worked on the project.


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