Who: Jody Ward has a long history with public art in Bend, beginning in 1968 with Art Now and, since 1977, Art in Public Places. Among other works the nonprofit organization has secured are “Bend Gate” (1998) and “Sound Garden” (2010) both by Portland sculptor Lee Kelly. Kelly is the artist behind the July exhibit at Bend Art Center, 550 SW Industrial Way, where at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Ward will discuss the history of public art in Bend, particularly the stories behind Bend’s 24 existing roundabout sculptures. Admission is $5 for the talk.
Q: Your talk is going to be about the history of Art in Public Places?
A: Because Lee Kelly has two pieces in our collection, it’s really going to be stories about the roundabouts collection and the artists. … We have an incredibly talented and well-known group of artists in our collection, and there are fun stories to tell about each one of those.
Q: Can you talk about how the art is chosen? I know you solicit public opinion, but that’s not the only criterion.
A: It’s an interesting program. … We issue a Call for Artists through a program called Cafe. Artists submit requested information and three images of previous work. The AiPP Board reviews the application and narrows it to three finalists. The finalists are then invited to construct a maquette of the proposed work, and that, along with their written comments, is put on display in (Downtown) Bend Public Library for public comment. … The last time we did a call was for Murphy and Third, and for 15th and Reed Market. We had 130 applications.
Q: For each of those, or total?
A: (Laughs) Total. We ended up only choosing one at that point, and that was for Third and Murphy. … That one is called “Gilded River,” and it was done by a consortium of three artists from Boise, Idaho. It’s stainless steel, aluminum and gold leaf.
Q: What’s the biggest misconception with Art in Public Places?
A: Easy to answer. No question, the biggest misconception is that it’s paid for by taxes of the city or that it costs our citizens money. It’s been an incredible gift by private donations, but primarily by the wonderful gifts of the Bend Foundation, (the philanthropic arm of) Brooks Resources. Our town is so lucky to have that magnificent company here. We gift (the artwork) to the city, and to the people of Bend, and then the city is responsible for maintaining them once they receive them. But they’re not paid for with any public money at all.