Eight sculptures will be installed on sidewalks around downtown Longview on Saturday as part of the final push by the Longview Outdoor Gallery to complete the city’s public art collection.
The outdoor gallery has been campaigning to purchase 23 sculptures for permanent display on the city streets by 2023. The gallery already had purchased 20 statues from previous rounds of the art contest.
Trudy Woods joined the gallery’s board of directors shortly after the first set of sculptures were installed in 2011. Woods founded the Broadway Gallery and said she wanted to further expand the artistic community around Longview and hoped the statues would help draw more foot traffic downtown.
“This year’s batch are the absolute best submissions we’ve had in the years since I’ve been involved,” Woods said.
The outdoor gallery signs two-year deals with the artists to put the sculptures on temporary display on the downtown streets. Pieces that are purchased by gallery donors or through funds raised by “Give More 24” are bought from the artist, then gifted to the city as free installations that will be kept long-term on the sidewalks.
The downtown sculptures currently stretch along multiple blocks of Commerce Avenue. The temporary pieces will expand the project’s scope, with many set to be placed near the intersection of Broadway and 14th Avenue.
One of the statues being installed this weekend was designed by a Longview resident. Mike Theisen said he took up welding and making sculptures after he retired in the early 2010s. Theisen had not submitted a piece to the Longview Outdoor Gallery before this year.
“Coffee Break” depicts a coffee cup made from the bottom of an oxygen tank, pouring out a stream of brown rusted tools. The sculpture stands 51 inches tall, not including the concrete podium it will be mounted on.
“These sorts of sculptures are dictated by the pieces of metal or the types of tools that I have. I sort through them and come up with ideas,” Theisen said.
Theisen said he was honored his work was among the pieces being installed this weekend and it would be another honor if it was purchased and made permanent.
The seven other sculptures chosen by the gallery for installation this year come from artists in Oregon and Washington. A Seattle sculptor named Leon White created one statue the gallery bought from the 2019 entries, “Sit and Smell the Roses,” and has another piece that will be on display this year.