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New Celebration Park sculptures invite interaction

"When Arts Commission Allan Smith sees kids and adults running their hands over the five new sculptures in Celebration Park, he just grins.Commissioners wanted art people would connect with. The large, bronze hand, foot, owl, turtle and frog that make up the piece beg to be handled, Smith said. It looks like something you'd like to touch, he said. That's partly what we were looking for, something people would be in contact with. It would be a focal point, something people felt a kinship with rather than something you looked at.Seattle artist Gloria Bornstein created the piece, which she calls Lineup. Several dozen people, including Bornstein, attended the ribbon cutting for the sculpture on Oct. 5. The sculpture borders the soccer field.The commission began seeking an artist to create a piece for Celebration Park about a year ago. Twenty-six artists expressed interest and submitted slides of their previous work. A committee that included two artists, an Art Commission member, a City Council member, someone who didn't know anything about art, a wetlands biologist and a high school student narrowed the field to five or six artists, Smith said.The city paid $95,000 for the sculpture through its 2 percent for the arts program, which requires that at least 2 percent of the total cost for a capital improvement project be set aside for public art. Bornstein has other works on display in the area, including the bronze sculpture of whales near the fountain at the Seattle Center and a sculpture called From One to Z outside the library at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Smith said. The commission hoped the sculpture, would connect the wetlands and athletic elements of the park. Smith says he believes Bornstein achieved that aim, with the hand and foot representing sports and the owl, turtle and frog representing the environment.It draws attention to the fact it is a dual-natured park, Smith said. It does have two natures. A lot of people who come for the fields, don't honestly know the wetlands are back there.The only complaint Smith has heard about the sculpture is that there's not more of it. People tell him they wish it were bigger and included a longer parade of animals. The 83.4 acres of Celebration Park, however, would dwarf just about any sculpture, he said.Lineup will please people with varied tastes, Smith said. Everyone will have a favorite element.Federal Way resident David Oltmann, who attended the ribbon cutting, had no trouble picking a favorite.It's got to be the turtle with the big, cheesy grin on its face, Oltmann said. It's the happiest turtle I've ever seen. "

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