A local group of art lovers will use the Kelso Highlander Festival and “Give More 24!” online fundraiser to boost the years-long effort to bring a work by world-famous glass artist Dale Chihuly permanently to downtown Longview.
The installation would occupy the median space on Broadway and would include two internally lighted towers standing about 21-feet high. The towers would include painted designs by Chihuly himself.
The Art Renaissance Team, a committee of the Longview Public Service Group nonprofit that is spearheading the project, estimates that each tower would cost about $400,000.
“A local Chihuly installation in our community will draw visitors to our area from Washington state and beyond,” said Retha Porter, the committee’s chairwoman.
As part of their fundraising efforts for the project, the group is selling baked goods at a “Scone Zone” booth during the Highlander Festival in Kelso on Sept. 14 and 15.
The Art Renaissance Team is also launching a major fundraising drive Sept. 10-19 through GiveMore 24. Donations to that campaign can be made online at www.givemore24.org/organizations/art-renaissance-team or www.cowlitzart.org.
The GiveMore 24 drive concludes with a celebration event Sept. 19 at Teague’s Interiors (1267 Commerce Ave.), where donors can eat handmade crepes and “experience your own glass artistry” by painting on a wine glass or coaster, according to an Art Renaissance Team news release.
The celebration event runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and people who donate during the event will also receive a special donor gift, the release says.
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Chihuly, a Tacoma native, is best known for his large-scale and colorful glass sculptures. He also is a prolific painter.
His work is on exhibit in more than 200 museum collections worldwide. His 1999 installation “Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem” attracted more than 1 million visitors to the Tower of David Museum.
Chihuly also has permanent exhibitions at Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle and the Tacoma Art Museum, among other places.
The art committee started fundraising for the Chihuly installation about three years ago. However, the idea for the project has roots back to 2011, when a community revitalization consultant suggested making Broadway a “destination point,” starting with public art.
According to a national survey by the Wallace Foundation, public art enhances pride of place, provides a gathering place for people of all incomes and backgrounds and attracts businesses and tourists to the area.
“The art of a community often defines its culture and its level of economic prosperity,” Porter said. “Communities leave their mark in history through their art. It’s often what they are remembered for. Think of the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Over the years, people have traveled to these destinations to experience this great art.”
The Chihuly project already has approval of the city and the Visual Arts Commission and Downtown Longview Committee.
The Art Renaissance Team wants to have the installation in place in time for the Longview centennial in 2023, according to a news release. The total amount that’s been raised for the project so far was not immediately available.