If you're walking through Timberland Park in the Cedar Mill neighborhood, then you might find a surprising musical instrument in your path.
In a press release on Monday, Nov. 16, Tualatin Valley Creates announced its Musical Benches Public Art Collection. TVC says it has been working with four large-scale sculptors to create vibrant and engaging works.
"Each new piece is considered functional art in that it both captures (the) audience's imagination through contemporary design and aesthetic, and it can literally be sat on and played with," said Tualatin Valley Creates in the announcement.
Three of the four new works were recently installed in Cedar Mill, Tigard and Forest Grove.
In Beaverton, people can look out for Ben Dye's "Tubus Musica" at Timberland Park. It's a two-sided air-based instrument that is played by tapping paddles or by cupped hands, which can make up to 12 distinct notes.
"The science behind it is that you're forcing a column of air through the tube," explained Dye, "because each of those is a different link — a different amount of time for the column of air to go through."
Dye has been practicing sculpting for 10 years.
Once he was chosen for TVC's project, he was excited to have a piece in the Cedar Mill neighborhood after installing other sculpting projects in Tigard and Forest Grove.
"As you're building, there's all of these concerns like vandalism, so I was pleased because it looks like it'll be well watched over," Dye said.
It took Dye three months to put the musical bench together. As for the sculpting process, it wasn't a simple walk in the park for the artist.
"A relief," said Dye about finishing the project. "It's a little bit stressful because there's all these components that have to come together. … I drew it all in 3-D modeling, but you don't know for a fact it's going to work until you're actually done."
Shortly after Dye's installation, Jill Torberson installed her brightly painted musical cubes in Tigard's new Universal Plaza in downtown Tigard. The perfectly sized red, orange and yellow cubes are designed with aluminum chimes that can be gently pushed to activate long sound waves that vibrate while seated.
"The panels of the cubes echo this theme," said TVC in the press release. "They depict overlapping soundwaves in concentric ring patterns, and when the cubes are aligned, the pattern perfectly connects."
As for the most recent installation, artist Jud Turner placed his "Wishing Bench" in downtown Forest Grove, on the corner of A Street and 21st Avenue. The almost seven-foot tall bench features a hanging double mallet. When pushed against the cylinder, it creates a long and low tone.
According to TVC, the collection was funded in part by Washington County to employ or commission individual artists and to encourage community connections.
"TVC worked with partners within each district to jury the 33 submissions, identify ideal installation sites, and moving forward, to help monitor the artwork from vandalism and maintenance," added the organization. "Community members throughout the Pacific Northwest are encouraged to safely enjoy each musical bench in accordance with state coronavirus guidelines."
For more information, visit tvcreates.org/musical-benches.
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