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Arts Council of Lake Oswego event includes an opportunity to interact with the sculptors of this year's program

PMG PHOTO: J. BRIAN MONIHAN - Mike Suri (left) talks about a sculpture he created with Jennifer Kapnek during a tour of the Gallery Without Wallks pieces.

During a trip to a buffalo reserve in Montana, Lake Oswego resident Cheryl Dotten ran into an English woman who had decided to visit art installations across the United States. Her next stop, she told Dotten, was Lake Oswego. She wanted to see an installation in the Gallery Without Walls program.

Led by the Arts Council of Lake Oswego, the community celebrated this public art program — which recently added 12 new sculptures throughout downtown Lake Oswego — during an event Sunday, Sept. 19, at City Hall.

"The Lake Oswego program is top of the heap of these programs," said sculptor Mike Suri. "A lot of cities are beginning to adopt these programs because it does take a lot of work and effort and commitment, but for relatively low input for what it is you can get: a lot of creativity, a lot of vibrance."

PMG PHOTO: COREY BUCHANAN - Rick True won the People's Choice Award for his piece titled "Big Bright Brookie." During the celebration, the arts council crowned Rick True as the 2022 People's Choice Award winner for his piece titled "Big Bright Brookie." The sculptor, who received over 40% of the vote, built a salmon with a rod connected to a bug sticking out of its mouth. At the event, True said the piece was inspired by fishing trips he took with his family as well as a story of his parents falling into the river while fishing.

"When he (True's dad) came out of the water, he still had that cigar sticking out of the side of his mouth," True said, adding that he enjoyed participating in the program and appreciated the community support.

COURTESY PHOTO: DAVE ARPIN - Rick True's piece "Big Bright Brookie" captured over 40% of the vote for the People's Choice Award.

Due to his victory, True's piece, which sits on 3rd Street between A and B Avenue, will become part of the city's permanent art collection.

Suri felt that the city's public art program is unique in part for its annual purchase of the People's Choice Award winner, and he noted that the money can start someone's career. He also said that the event often leads to private sales.

"It's not easy to produce this work," he said. "To get to the stage where you're in a space with equipment and the know-how to use the equipment, materials, and the know-how to produce it and bring it here — it's a lot. These programs create opportunities for artists to try to do that."

PMG PHOTO: J. BRIAN MONIHAN - Scott Foster discusses his piece titlted "The Watcher" during an art tour.

Fellow sculptor Scott Foster built a piece called The Watcher, which sits next to Safeway across from City Hall and represents society watching the world deteriorate. He said he was elated to see sculpting celebrated and noted that the art form is often under-appreciated.

"Not every town has that, so it's really nice to see sculpture embraced. It feels rare. It's kind of like finding a little home; people who appreciate sculptures, thank you," he said.

Harold Linke's piece Cloud 9 on 6th Street and A Avenue uses the human form to express joy. He said he has 15 public art sculptures between Oregon and Oklahoma.

"It's (Gallery Without Walls) run by people who care very much about art and how Lake Oswego is in the forefront of art and (are) dedicated to what is here and what can be," he said.

PMG PHOTO: COREY BUCHANAN - Artists were hard at work during the celebration.

Dotten and her husband, Mike, sponsored a piece called Inspiration and Pollination, which depicts vibrant flowers and is located on B Avenue and 1st Street.

"We're committed to outdoor art. We love it. I've taken my grandkids to it since they were toddlers and walked the walk. It's something we're proud of here," Cheryl said.

PMG PHOTO: COREY BUCHANAN - Attendees of the Gallery Without Walls celebration at City Hall observe the program. PMG PHOTO: COREY BUCHANAN - Public art and a drawing rally were available at the event.

Along with the crowning of the People's Choice award winner, the event included the chance to buy art, artist demonstrations and a tour of the sculptures.

Nicole Nathan, executive director for the arts council, felt that the event went swimmingly.

"The Gallery Without Walls celebration brought together hundreds of people — from this year's sculptors and drawing rally artists to our amazing volunteers, sponsors, and the community — all in support of the power of art!" she wrote via email.

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