After December's windstorm, the new public art at Bellevue City Hall might seem a bit too familiar to some residents, but the gargantuan bronze sculpture modeled after an uprooted tree trunk tells a story about the city's past a lot older than last year.
"The Root," installed in a corner of the plaza at City Hall on Saturday, Feb. 24, hearkens back to Bellevue's logging origins, when it was a forest wilderness made remote by Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish. In the 1800s, before there were high-tech jobs, high-end malls or even strawberry fields, there was timber.
Dan Corson of Seattle cast the sculpture from the trunk of a real cedar tree harvested in the 19th century. One of several pieces of public art that complement the new City Hall, "Root" is suspended on its side and shimmering with silver paint. The tangle of roots can be graceful or busy or sinister, depending on your perspective, physical or psychological.
The root is tilted, half up, half leaning, as though it's ready to go somewhere. The visible root mass reflects a central idea of City Hall; making the work of the city visible an accessible to its residents.
"Root" is enthralling for its dimensions alone — 16 feet in diameter, 12 feet long and nearly five tons. Metalsmiths cast more than 350 pieces and joined them to make the sculpture. The sculpture stands in what will eventually be a small pool. The city is accepting bids from contractors to engineer the pool, which is expected to be working by June.
The third major sculpture to be installed at City Hall, “Root” works with the two already in place, “Current” and “Compass.” Whidbey Island artist Linda Beaumont’s terrazzo floor, “Current,” transforms the 300-foot first-floor concourse into a swirling, sparkling river. At the end of the concourse, the balcony that overlooks the city features Vancouver, B.C. artist Alan Storey’s 50-foot tall “Compass,” a kinetic work with parts that move with the wind.
“Root” has a companion, living art work. In a pool beyond the new sculpture, in the very corner of the plaza, is a tree growing from a nurse log. It is small now, but it will one day tower over the the “root” from which it symbolically rises.Bellevue’s Public Art Program purchases and commissions art for the city with advice from the Bellevue Arts Commission. The focus of the program for the next seven years includes using public art to define/enhance an urban walkway from City Hall to the waterfront, working with the private sector to increase public art in Bellevue and working with neighborhoods to commission public art that expresses their unique character.
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