Bronze sculptures of two members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation gathering tule reeds will join the other artwork on Kennewick's Clover Island.
Port of Kennewick commissioners this week unanimously approved working with Rodd Ambroson of Joseph, Ore., to create the statues depicting historic and modern use of tule grasses.
The sculptures will be of an elderly woman in ancient clothing and a teenage boy in modern clothes. Barb Carter of the Kennewick Arts Commission said both will be using the tools of their time period, and current tribal members will be used as models to create the lifelike sculptures.
The port budgeted $120,000 for the artwork, but Tana Bader Inglima, the port's director of governmental relations and marketing, said it is expected to cost less. The sculpture should be less than $85,000, not including installation, a foundation and lighting.
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"This is really going to be something to see when it's all done," said Skip Novakovich, port commission president.
An example of Ambroson's work is already on Clover Island. He created Call of the River, a statue of a woman holding an oar, installed in 2010.
Carter said she has worked with tribal representatives for more than two years on the project. Tribal representatives will continue to be part of the process as the artwork is created.
In addition to the sculpture, Village at Island Harbor, a 1.25-acre mixed-use development that will be on the south side of the island between Ice Harbor at the Marina and the new Clover Island Yacht Club, will include an interpretive center operated by the confederated tribes, Carter said.
Novakovich said he hopes the project will solidify a partnership with the confederated tribes.
The confederated tribes have strong ties to the area, where they once fished for salmon and gathered tule reeds used to make into mats, Carter said.
They decided to focus on tule gathering for the sculpture because it is not a widely told part of their heritage, she said.
Babies were born on the mats, and when tribal members died, they were wrapped in them, Carter said.
Dried tule reeds were sewn into mats using other grasses as sewing thread, Carter said.
It will take about 15 months for the artwork to be completed, she said.
Port Executive Director Tim Arntzen said while the cost for the sculpture sounds like a lot of money, artwork draws people to Clover Island. Like the boardwalk, it's a project where he expects to see a return on investment.
The quality of life is enhanced by artwork like this, said Port Commissioner Gene Wagner.
Port commissioners also unanimously approved contracting with artist Todd Berget of Libby, Mont., to create a rustic metal sculpture of two eagles fighting over a salmon for Clover Island.
The cost is expected to be under $15,000, including installation, and it was budgeted.