Visitors to downtown Milwaukie can now see three new pieces in the City Hall Sculpture Garden, unveiled Oct. 4 and on display through 2021. The garden is located outside of City Hall, 10722 S.E. Main St.
Shelly Durica-Laiche, of Indio Studios in Portland, has built "Crescent," a 10-foot-tall abstract work constructed of repurposed metal scrap materials.
Portland artist Jennifer Kapnek's piece, "What Comes Around," blends two-dimensional and three-dimensional elements in a depiction of a tree at sunset. It's constructed from wood, featuring an organic tree form base that suspends two painted wood circles.
"Forged Grace" was created by artists Christopher Truax, Mark Boehly and Skyler Null with Truax Designs of West Linn. The nearly eight-foot-tall metal elephant was inspired by the work of Salvador Dali.
"It's been my dream for years to have a sculpture in a public location; I'm grateful to have been accepted into the Milwaukie City Hall Sculpture Garden," Durica-Laiche said. She has been creating sculptures and selling her work to individuals for the past seven years, but having a piece in the sculpture garden is the first time her work has been available to the public.
"Anyone from any walk of life can experience it in a beautiful setting at any time," she said.
"Crescent," her piece in the sculpture garden is "a section of a circle. The eye can fill in the lines and create the circles. The energy of what is missing is still felt," she said.
Durica-Laiche said she works with repurposed metals about 80% of the time.
"Scrap pieces that I gather from steelyards can inspire an entire sculpture. I also use new materials if I am creating an idea from scratch," she said.
Durica-Laiche is an Oregon native with a bachelor's degree in both sculpture and graphic design from Portland State University. She has been welding since she first fell in love with steel in 2003. She created Indio Metal Arts in 2012, which sells steel art for the home and garden.
"I'm fascinated by the fact steel can transform from inflexible to liquid, with heat. Once cooled, it's indestructible," she said.
Durica-Laiche said she finds her materials from all over the state by picking through scrapyards looking for inspirational textures, shapes and sizes.
"I enjoy when a viewer is surprised and delighted upon recognizing a material that is being used out of context. It then becomes a transformative experience for them through the sculpture," she said.
Her design style incorporates clean lines and bold and graphic shapes.
"The scrap metal inspires what I create, so pieces are one of a kind. I focus on the elegance of form, saying the most with the least material," Durica-Laiche said.
Her work has been seen at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts, Portland Open Studios and Cracked Pots, among others.
Visit artisticportland.com/shelly-durica.html or indiometalarts.com for more information.
Kapnek said she is honored and delighted to have her piece included in the sculpture garden.
"Public art is a wonderful thing for a city to offer to its residents and visitors, and a fantastic opportunity for artists," she said.
Kapnek is a painter/sculptor who also heads up the Urban Art Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for self-representing local artists.
She said she finds joy in making art, participating in public art projects, being of service, and spending time in nature with her dogs.
Her piece is titled "What Comes Around," which she said expresses that "with transition can come the confidence of return."
Kapnek noted that "each of the two sides of the two circles share the tree base and use the same simple elements to tell the story of a single moment."
She added: "Each side, in its own really quiet, opposite way, demonstrates what was and what will be. I am always looking in the patterns and cycles of nature to find an explanation of life that makes sense to me."
Although her early education was in metalsmithing, Kapnek said she has been working exclusively with wood for the past 15 years, finding "a quiet poetry in painting images of trees on wood."
She currently has another, "sister" piece of public art in the Gallery Without Walls in Lake Oswego. Kapnek also has a storefront in North Portland and can be found at the First Thursday Street Gallery on Northwest 13th Street every month.
To learn more about Jennifer Kapnek, visit jenniferkapnek.com. For more information about the Urban Art Network, visit urbanartnetwork.org.
Truax Design Team
For the design team of Mark Boehly, Skyler Null and Christopher Truax, being part of the sculpture garden project is a dream come true.
"We have always wanted to build outdoor sculpture. Hopefully, being here will open more doors for future installments," Boehly said.
"But what's even cooler is our sculpture is across from the Dark Horse "Alien vs. Predator" display. We're huge H.R. Giger fans, so having our first outdoor sculpture next to a xenomorph means a lot," he added.
The elephant, titled "Forged Grace," was truly a team project, Boehly said.
Truax has been creating metal sculptures for more than 19 years. His work has been shown all around the country and has been shipped worldwide.
Truax trained Null how to make metal sculptures years ago and guided Null through the welding process on the elephant. Then, when the piece was chosen for the sculpture garden, all three men worked together to strengthen the legs of the statue for outdoor display.
"Elephants are the biggest and most graceful land creatures on Earth, (and) we wanted to capture that in metal sculpture. The name combines our skillset with elegance," Boehly said.
As for inspiration, the team has "always been attracted to the surreal dream worlds from Dali paintings. Elephants are creatures with pure souls, and we thought Dali's take on the spiderlike legs was inspiring," he said.
All three men show their work at Truax Designs, a studio located at 1091 Willamette Falls Drive, West Linn. It is open to the public from noon-5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Pieces also are on display at the Beer Store in Milwaukie and Made in Milwaukie art store.
"We are striving to be the most unique and upcoming artists in the area. Life is too short not to experiment and explore. We eat, sleep and breathe creativity," Boehly said.
Visit truaxdesigns.com for more information.
Back to the garden
The Milwaukie City Hall Sculpture Garden, 10722 S.E. Main St., features six pieces made by area artists, with a seventh sculpture nearby at Dogwood Park.
The three most recent additions will be on display through 2021 and are available for purchase at the end of their rotation.
They are: "Crescent," by Shelly Durica-Laiche; "What Comes Around," by Jennifer Kapnek, and
"Forged Grace" by Christopher Truax, Mark Boehly and Skyler Null.
For more information, visit milwaukieoregon.gov/artmob.
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