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Auburn officially dedicates Downtown Sculpture Gallery

Sculptor Dan Klennert presents his metal Roadrunner. Klennert’s piece is one of seven outdoor sculptures that will be displayed throughout the year in Auburn’s new Downtown Sculpture Gallery. - Rachel Ciampi/Auburn Reporter
Sculptor Dan Klennert presents his metal Roadrunner. Klennert’s piece is one of seven outdoor sculptures that will be displayed throughout the year in Auburn’s new Downtown Sculpture Gallery.
— image credit: Rachel Ciampi/Auburn Reporter

Auburn officially ushered in a new era Monday evening — an era when sculptures, judiciously scattered, jazz up the downtown — and when people, diverted by clever, beautiful art, stop to gaze and think.

The window on this new reality opened at 7 p.m. at Auburn Avenue Theater at the Downtown Sculpture Gallery's dedication and reception, as Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis, City Arts Coordinator Maija McKnight and others explained why the sculpture gallery matters and a short film showcased the artists.

Seven loaned outdoor sculptures, of various types and mediums, have been installed on and around Main Street as part of the gallery.

"When art's outside in public places, it's the inspiration that we get every day," said Greg Watson, a member of the Auburn Arts Commission. "I go up and down Main Street every day on my way to work and back, and I know I'm going to get a lot of inspiration, a lot of joy out of going past these pieces, and I really appreciate that."

"It's another great addition to activate that streetscape and that pedestrian environment and get everyone talking about art and downtown Auburn and how everything builds on everything else," said Auburn Senior Planner Elizabeth Chamberlain.

"With growth comes responsibility, and part of that responsibility is with the arts and from the arts community," Lewis said. "We need to grow into our arts in our city. As our city has grown so has our expression of the arts, an expression of our soul to the greater community."

Then everybody wrapped warm coats around themselves and strolled out into the biting air for a sculpture walk alongside five of the seven featured artists — Lin Rebolini McJunkin, Kris Vermeer, Kenneth Hall, Dan Klennert, and Leo E. Osborne.

Roadrunner is the current front-runner in the People's Choice vote. The sculpture, by Klennert, stands in front of Harold's Plumbing on the corner of Main Street and B Street Southwest.

Other pieces are: Tree of Life by Kris Vermeer (1st Street Northeast and North Division); Eagle Song by Leo Osborne (A Street Southwest and Main Street); Turtle Island Puget Sound (B Street Northeast and Main Street); Riparian Totem by Lin Rebolini McJunkin (B Street Northeast and Main Street); Chakra by Kenneth Hall (Auburn Way South and Main Street); and House with Round Windows by Nicky Falkenhayn (A Street Southeast and Main Street).

"Ask any of the artists," said Klennert, "we're thrilled to be able to show our sculptures in Auburn, and I'm particularly happy to share Roadrunner with the community."

Klennert breathed life into the iconic bird using found objects like old tractor seats, chainsaw bars, blades for old wood planers and an old pick for the bird's beak.

"It's a wonderful program that showcases incredible talent and helps to bring attention not only to the art but also to Auburn's historic downtown," McKnight said. "All of the pieces are loaned to the gallery and the pedestals were funded through a state revitalization program."

Ballots for the People's Choice and additional information and photos of each of the sculptures can be found in the lobby of Auburn City Hall or online at www.auburnwa.gov/sculpture.

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