Public invited to review art proposed for Point Defiance waterfront project

Metro Parks Tacoma is inviting local residents to review and comment on public art being created at Point Defiance Park.

Portland, Ore.-based sculptor Adam Kuby was awarded a $125,000 commission to create an outdoor, permanent sculpture as part of the new 11-acre peninsula park, located on the east side of Point Defiance Park and next to the Tacoma Yacht Club. The park is part of Metro Parks Tacoma’s Waterfront Phase I Project, which began last year and includes a bike-and-pedestrian bridge connection between Point Defiance Park and Ruston Way, improved boat trailer parking, and a City of Tacoma stormwater facility to clean runoff from hundreds of acres before it hits Puget Sound.

Kuby’s sculpture, currently titled Alluvion, harks back to the origin of the site where the park will be established. The peninsula was built of slag, or waste materials, from the former Asarco copper smelter. For decades, the giant smelter smokestack dominated its surroundings, providing jobs but also polluting the environment. In compliance with a federal Superfund cleanup, dirt contaminated by past smelter operations will be buried beneath the park.

Kuby’s proposed installation features a 15-foot-tall, 3-foot-wide steel pipe anchored upright to the ground. It’s the apex of a 10,000-square-foot array, about the size of two basketball courts, but triangular in shape. As designed, 10 rows of broken pipe will fan out from the tall upright stack. The shortest rows, closest to the upright, consist of the largest pieces; the longest rows, farthest out and at the base of the triangle, are made up of the tiniest.

In addition to Alluvion, Kuby has been working with the design team to integrate artwork and artistic concepts into the overall design of the park, which are outlined in an “Art Brief” produced by the artist. The “Art Brief” also identifies a number of distinct opportunities for local artists to create permanent public artworks at the new waterfront park, which will be announced in 2016.

Kuby, who grew up in Philadelphia, has made a name for himself internationally with landscape-based public art. Notable works include Breaker, along the Grays Harbor waterfront in Aberdeen; Incrementally, four related granite sculptures in Seattle; and others in the San Francisco bay area, Portland and Calgary. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983 with a degree in design and environmental studies, he worked in landscape architecture for several years and subsequently studied sculpture, earning a master’s in fine arts from the University of North Carolina in 1992. He won the 2014 Rome prize, making him a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, and a 2014 Yaddo artist residency in Saratoga, N.Y.

“My artworks are collaborations with the built and natural world that foster a sense of connectedness in our increasingly fractured environment,” said Kuby. “Each project offers a chance to explore how human communities, urban landscapes and natural systems can better coexist, and how parallel layers of meaning and purpose can create a deeper sense of place.”

The final conceptual design for Alluvion will be publicly unveiled in an open house at 5 p.m. on Mon., March 14, at Metro Parks Tacoma headquarters, located at 4702 S. 19th St.,in Tacoma, followed by a study session with the Board of Park Commissioners at 5:30 p.m. The open house is an opportunity for members of the public to meet and speak with Kuby and see examples of his other public art works, including several in Seattle and Portland.