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Artist finds sculpture inspiration among trees

Fri., Feb. 19, 2010

Bronze piece will adorn CdA’s eastern entrance

The artist creating the 18-foot-high metal sculpture that soon will grace Coeur d’Alene’s eastern entrance found her inspiration high atop Canfield Mountain.

That’s where Teresa McHugh discovered the ponderosa pine that helped her visualize the sculpture that will be installed at Sherman Avenue and 22nd Street in May. Billowing around the tree will be ribbons of bronze, evoking images of sails on the lake, but also gracefully spelling “CdA,” the Lake City’s moniker.

“I think I looked at every pine in town,” the 47-year-old artist said from her Dalton Gardens workshop, near a workbench plastered with pictures of pines. “I have such an appreciation for beauty and nature. I would never want to compete with that, just to honor it. To represent a city is a huge honor. It makes me feel really great about putting it out there.”

McHugh’s design, “Take Time,” was selected from among 40 proposed to the city’s Arts Commission. Four finalists were selected and models of their designs were displayed at Art on the Green last summer, where visitors voted, said Steve Anthony, the city’s recreation director and liaison to the Arts Commission. McHugh’s design received more than 50 percent of the votes. The runner-up, “Catch the Wind,” a metal sculpture of three colorful sails, will be placed at the Centennial Trail trailhead at Seltice Way and Northwest Boulevard, Anthony said.

McHugh was born and raised in Coeur d’Alene and her family runs Clark’s Diamond Jewelers downtown. She said she’s essentially self-taught, although growing up in the jewelry business gave her a “fix-it mentality,” and her mother exposed her to numerous crafts. She has also taken some multimedia and welding classes.

A metal artist for 12 years, McHugh said this is her first full-time year, now that her three children are grown.

Her husband, Barry, who is Kootenai County’s prosecutor, has been a constant supporter, she said. Her previous sculptures include the flowing water and fish on Kootenai Medical Center’s parking garage and two syringas at the Post Falls cancer center.

Funding for McHugh’s project, valued at $100,000, including materials, engineering, labor and landscaping, comes from the city’s public art fund.

In 1999, the city passed an ordinance dedicating 1.33 percent of all above-ground public works project funds to public art, including the maintenance.

The fund has purchased the two feather sculptures at the city’s Northwest Boulevard entrance, the granite benches at parks and trailheads, the unique bicycle racks along Fourth Street and numerous other pieces.

“Catch the Wind,” a $75,000 project, was funded with urban renewal dollars, Anthony said.

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