The fate of a statue the Spokane Valley Arts Council intends to donate to the city of Spokane Valley is up in the air even as the construction of the statue continues.
The arts council already has donated two larger-than-life bronze statues that are installed near CenterPlace. The city is planning a landscaped entryway to the city with a welcome sign at Thierman and Appleway and indicated it would like to put a piece of art there.
Last month representatives from the arts council visited a City Council meeting with plans for a 16-foot bronze sculpture, Dance of the Sun and Moon by Colville artist Jerry McKellar, for use at the Thierman site. The council praised the statue and agreed to go forward with the plan, but had second thoughts at a later meeting. While the statue is beautiful, council members said, it isn’t a good fit for the site because no one would be able to get close to it.
“It isn’t a drive-by piece,” Mayor Tom Towey said. “This is a walk-up piece.”
The city wants the art at the Thierman location to have more of a welcoming message, Towey said. “I think this council has discussed the fact that this gateway is really important to us.”
The council’s second thoughts prompted arts council president James Harken to send a letter to the city saying that locating the statue in Balfour Park, which several council members suggested, would not work.
Harken said he worried that putting such a large statue next to a playground would turn it into a climbing wall. “It won’t work in a place where children are playing,” he said. “It won’t stand it. It’s asking for trouble.”
The letter stated that the statue would now be considered for placement at a location somewhere in Spokane County. Harken said he now regrets including that sentence and is already talking to the city’s Parks and Recreation director to find a new location for the statue in Spokane Valley.
Harken said he believes the statue should go where there isn’t a lot of foot traffic or people touching it. “This is a statue that needs to be seen from afar,” he said.
Towey said he would be happy to have the statue somewhere in the city. “We could put it at CenterPlace,” he said. “We could put it just about anywhere in Spokane Valley. It would be a beautiful piece somewhere else.”
But while the arts council intends to go ahead with plans to donate the statue for a site to be determined later, the city is on its own if it wants a piece of art at the Thierman location, Harken said. The arts council doesn’t want to go through months of work only to have it go to waste again, he said.
“We’re not going to embark on another statue for that place,” he said. “We’re not going to be involved.”