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New statue symbolizes community growth, togetherness during pandemic

Matthew Dockrey poses with his new statue at Rocky Hill Park in Liberty Lake.  (Courtesy)
Matthew Dockrey poses with his new statue at Rocky Hill Park in Liberty Lake. (Courtesy)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

The Liberty Lake Parks and Art Commission recently commissioned a piece of public art created around the theme “Liberty Lake Together,” which was a campaign launched by the city in 2020 to encourage everyone to help each other through the tough times.

The steel art, created in the shape of four flowers, was installed in Rocky Hill Park in November and a public dedication ceremony was held on a snowy day in mid-December. Titled “Growing Together,” the piece was created by artist Matthew Dockrey.

The idea to commission a piece of public art came during the pandemic, said Parks and Art Commission chairwoman Laina Schutz.

“We knew artists were struggling,” she said. “More than that, we wanted to do something to document this time. We wanted something that really symbolized our community and how we came together.”

A call to artists was put out and the only requirement was that the piece be based on the Liberty Lake Together logo. There were no requirements for the form or material of the art. “We didn’t give any other specifications,” Schutz said.

Dockery, who grew up in the area and remembers riding his bike through the Rocky Hill Park area before there was a park there, said he was partly inspired by watching the town itself spring up from nothing over the years. “I wanted to capture that growth,” he said.

He usually creates a computer model of his art before he builds it. He said he’s not sure why he chose a cluster of four flowers of differing sizes. “I just thought it looked good that way,” he said. “I liked the flower form I had made from the logo.”

The flower pieces were put directly in the ground so it appears that they are growing there, Dockrey said. All the elements are made of different types of steel. “The petals are made of weathering steel,” he said. “It’s made to rust and then stop rusting, so you get this rusty patina, but it doesn’t corrode.”

Dockrey also has public art pieces on display in Tacoma, Gig Harbor and Vancouver, Washington. His work can be seen online at www.attoparsec.com.

He has been an artist for the last 10 years, and Dockrey is pleased to see his art in a place he used to call home. “Mostly it’s an excuse to make interesting stuff,” he said.

Shutz said several artists submitted proposals, but Dockrey’s immediately rose to the top. “Right away we knew we wanted to use Matthew’s piece,” she said. “It was perfect. And he has ties to Liberty Lake. He really has seen it grow and change. That’s a really nice perspective that he has.”

Rocky Hill Park was chosen as the site for the art piece because it’s a busy, popular park with a new snack shack, a story walk and other features, Schutz said. The rusty patina on the flower leaves will also fit in well with the old barn that sits on the edge of the park, she said.

Schutz said she was drawn in by the look of Dockrey’s art. “To me it kind of looks like a family with the two bigger pieces and the two smaller pieces,” she said. “It’s just a very beautiful interpretation of our community and how we came together.”

The commission might do other large-scale public art in the future, though not this year, Schutz said. This year, the Commission plans to decorate more of the city’s utility boxes and is in talks with the Hoopfest organization about having a mural put on the basketball court in Pavillion Park. “We’re really excited,” she said.

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