Washougal begins filling position on new Arts Commission

Five-to-nine person commission will help develop public art projects for city

WASHOUGAL — Public displays of art can be seen across the landscape of the city of Washougal. They speak of everything from science, to history, to culture. The are interconnected to the city and it’s identity.   

One of the more recent additions to Washougal’s public art scene; Eega the bigfoot statue at the natural play area is some nine feet tall. Photo by Jacob Granneman
One of the more recent additions to Washougal’s public art scene; Eega the bigfoot statue at the natural play area is some nine feet tall. Photo by Jacob Granneman

From Lewis and Clark’s dog Seaman’s statue in the town square, to the bronze bald eagle in Waterfront Park, to Eega the sasquatch in the natural play area along the waterfront walk, art of many shapes and kinds enriches the landscape of the city. 

In an effort to continue expanding art’s influence in the community, the city created the Washougal Arts Commission in May of this year. This month, they are receiving applications for seats in the commission and will choose five-to-nine people to occupy the positions.  

“I’m very happy to see that we have a community that has a real interest in not only public art, but art in all its forms,” said Washougal Mayor Molly Coston. “I think it also will provide a lot of energy for the community and for arts in general.”

This bronze bald eagle statue in Waterfront Park was installed earlier this year and features the work of an area sculpture. Photo by Jacob Grannema
This bronze bald eagle statue in Waterfront Park was installed earlier this year and features the work of an area sculpture. Photo by Jacob Grannema

The commission will work alongside the side and the Washougal Arts and Cultural Alliance (WACA) to “ … identify and actively encourage the development and sustainability of arts in the city.”

Applications are available online, and will remain open until Oct. 21. Decisions on applicants will be reached by Dec. 3, and the first meeting of the group is set for January 2020.

“It’s a very nuanced commission,” Coston said. “It doesn’t have anywhere near the role that say, our parks commission, or any of the other ones do, but we’re hoping that we can, that the Arts Commission can kind of start to talk about art, about public art and arts in general, including, of course, music and dance; collaborate with the schools.”

Funding for the group was allocated by the city earlier this year, and is set at $5,000 at present. Above that, funds will be provided through grants, donations and admission charges for future art exhibits, events or programs.

Applicants do not need to be Washougal residents, and need only have an interest in art and the desire to work with others to bring art to the community. The goal is to have one person from a local or regional arts organization, one young person and one person who has worked in arts education.

A marker symbolizing peace lines the trail through Washougal’s Waterfront Park area. Public art installations will feature multicultural works throughout the city. Photo by Jacob Granneman
A marker symbolizing peace lines the trail through Washougal’s Waterfront Park area. Public art installations will feature multicultural works throughout the city. Photo by Jacob Granneman

So far, the city has about 10 applicants, and expects to have many more this month. The organic and grassroots effort to found the group is supported not only by Coston but all members of the council. 

Final decisions on appointments will be made by the mayor and approved by council. Positions are volunteer, and will be required to attend meetings and work toward the following goals, as listed on the city’s website:

  • Advise city council on issues relating to artwork, artistic endeavors and opportunities in the city
  • Develop public art policies for acquisition, display and presentation
  • Identify projects that could benefit from artists’ involvement
  • Select artists
  • Act as a representative/voice of the community in matters of public art
  • Develop collaborations and connections with Washougal schools and local, regional and national arts organizations
  • Inform public about art and culture in the city

Coston says she first began pondering the arts from a government standpoint upon traveling to Port Angeles for a meeting of city leaders. At the time, Port Angeles had many exhibits of public art, and Coston recalls asking leaders there how they maintain such clean displays. 

“They told me that they had a program of pieces on loan from artists,” she said. “So, they had a whole program that they’d put together, but the thing that interested me the most is they said,  ‘Well, we just feel that when we have public art, and we start to have a concept of a feeling of public art, and in all its forms in the school system, that it develops this personal sense of pride in public art, even among all the way across all of the students.’”

Partnerships with WACA and the Port of Camas-Washougal are expected to be complementary. Coston says she sees WACA continuing to come up with “crazy ideas” and the commission supporting the development of those ideas.

“I think if you get nine people that all have a passion for the arts together, I think you’re going to create some vitality,” Coston said. “I’m very thrilled with it.”

For more information on applications or the duties of the Washougal Arts Commission, you can visit the city’s website are reach out to Parks and Cemetery Program Manager Suzanne Grover at suzanne.grover@cityofwashougal.us.    

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About The Author

Jacob Granneman is a filmmaker and writer from Clark County. He is a recent graduate of Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College, where he studied media production. He has produced documentary stories all over the Pacific Northwest and in Argentina. His passions range from loving people, to cinematography, to going on adventures in the most beautiful place on earth, i.e. his backyard. He lives with his wife in Vancouver, WA.

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