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Following focus group meetings and public surveys, city leaders to soon issue call to artists for new roundabout artwork

PHOTO COURTESY OF ODOT - After holding several focus group meetings on a potential piece of roundabout art, and conducting three surveys, city leaders will soon issue a call for artists.

Prineville's lone roundabout is complete.

All traffic access points are open and signs and lighting are installed.

But one last piece is still missing — specifically the artwork centerpiece that local leaders hope to drop in the middle of the traffic structure.

Work has been ongoing since the beginning of this year to fill the void, which is nothing more than a mound of dirt at this point. City Engineer Eric Klann notes that a recently formed focus group has met a handful of times in the past few months and conducted three public surveys to gauge what type of artwork locals would like to see in the roundabout.

Most people have urged city officials to consider something that pays homage to Crook County's history, culture and interest in use of natural resources. Early on, focus group members talked about highlighting the community's history in ranching, mining and logging, but they later realized that trying to artistically represent that many activities would make an overly busy display.

Instead, the group will try to go with a single piece of artwork, possibly, but not necessarily, made of bronze, which will appeal to the majority of the public.

"Now, we are working with ODOT," Klann said. "There are a lot of stipulations as to what we can do in there and how we go about it. What we have decided to do is go out for a 'call for artists.' ODOT has a program where they advertise. Artists can choose to respond."

Local leaders are going to ask artists to review the different public surveys and all of the additional input collected from the public and then provide a sketch of what they envision creating.

"Then, we would narrow that down to probably three," Klann said. "Then those three would be a mock-up and come to the community and present their ideas."

Whatever the artists come up with will need to meet certain ODOT guidelines regarding height and other restrictions. City Planning Director Josh Smith points out that the feature needs to be tall enough to obstruct passenger car views but short enough that truck drivers can see over the top and anticipate traffic.

Klann added that the artwork cannot include any moving features, and no statues paying homage to a specific person are allowed.

Installation of the artwork will turn the roundabout into a work zone once again, Klann said, but he expects to keep traffic moving through the structure during the process.

"It might be that the actual centerpiece, the art piece itself, might be constructed offsite," said Associate Planner Casey Kaiser.

The roundabout focus group has already begun raising funds for the artwork, an effort spearheaded by member Steve Holliday.

"We are trying to get community involvement because in the survey, everybody wanted to make sure there weren't any tax dollars spent on it," he said. "I have had a lot of people say they are interested in donating and asking how much we are trying to raise."

So far, an exact number is not known, but once it is, the group will develop a budget. Meanwhile, they have raised about $49,000 primarily through word of mouth. Once a specific piece of artwork is selected and costs become more concrete, the focus group will hold more official fundraising events.

Focus group members plan to go out for a call to artists around the beginning of next month. They hope to have artist proposals in hand by the end of January, then spend the next couple months whittling that list to three.

If all goes as planned, they will have made a selection by early this coming summer.

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