New Sculptures in Familiar Places: Public Art Installations on Bainbridge Island

by Mar 11, 2021

Something New aims to provide both a dynamic public art experience and an ongoing opportunity for sculptors from around the Pacific Northwest to exhibit their work. The project brings a collection of sculptures to three outdoor sites around Winslow for a yearlong exhibition. New pieces are selected and rotated into these permanent locations annually, bringing “something new” to Bainbridge Island each year.

There’s always something new if you know where to look, if you know how to look. Wholeheartedly embracing the element of delight and discovery of something we have not encountered before is to delve momentarily into our wildly excitable child mind; the very moment your eyes alight on that which you have never seen but will never forget. Recall childhood, a time when most everything is so incredibly vivid and enticingly new that one could barely wait to jettison out of bed in the morning and fitfully resisted sleep at night.

Permit me to take you on a written tour through Winslow to meet three exciting and diverse new sculptures and their creators. One day soon, I hope you will take a walking tour and discover these works of art in a way unique to you.

Why not begin where most visitors begin when they disembark the ferry? Let’s pretend we’re arriving on this beautiful island for the first time with beginner eyes. As you walk westward on Winslow Way and pass the Town & Country market, notice a brilliant display – the sun illuminating cast glass hexagon “cells” of aquamarine and spring green within metal forms; meet Fossil II.

The making of this sculpture was a collaboration between two Washingtonians; glass artist, Lin McJunkin and metal sculptor, Milo White. If you’re not a beekeeper or apiarist, you may not be familiar with Colony Collapse Syndrome. The sculpture is meant to draw our attention to this abnormal phenomenon where a majority of the worker bees disappear from the colony leaving the queen behind. Lin and Milo hope for a solution to this problem (caused in part by pesticides and climate change) before bees become fossils themselves. They focus their work on the interplay between natural and human history. Lin, who is also a science educator, says she is committed to raising people’s awareness of the impact of bees on the natural and human-built environment and advocates for the health of our planet and its inhabitants.

After pausing to contemplate the fragile life of bees and the delicate balance of nature, let’s continue our stroll toward Madison Avenue and turn left down to the marina where we’ll be greeted by The Shape of Memory.

The title of this work evokes intangible, wisps of thought – gone before we can grasp them. Japanese born artist Fumi Amano created this piece with old window frames from a friends’ home which were replaced with new ones. Fumi contemplated the memories the glass held within the Victorian shaped frames, and she imagined what her friends’ family saw from the windows. Memories framed within glass is one layer of thought in play within this work. There exists another overarching narrative in Fumis’ creative and personal continuum that informs her work with and relationship to glass as a medium of expression. As a Japanese woman living in the United States, Fumi struggles with communication. She has said that like many for whom English is a second language, she is often perceived as ignorant, which has caused her a great deal of sadness:

“Continuously appearing ignorant has brought me real frustration. I feel that there are eyes on me all the time, and this intimidates me. I feel that the more I stay here, the more I shrink. I’ve lost myself. Loneliness has made me eager for a deeper sense of affinity with others.”
– Fumi Amano

With thoughts of past memory and present connection swirling in our heads, let’s now backtrack north on Madison Avenue to City Hall where we’ll encounter the final sculpture on our tour, Reflection.

Endearingly whimsical and enduringly philosophical, Reflection is a steel sculpture made of found objects, like parts from a water heater, and newly created forms. This artwork depicts an oversized vanity mirror with a caterpillar which has crawled onto one side, facing a butterfly that has landed on the other.

They represent each other’s past and future, promise and regret, hope and memory, yet they are one. The artist, Abe Singer, gave the caterpillar and butterfly a complementary posture with the placement of their feet directly across from each other with even spacing, creating the illusion of glass between them. In Abe’s’ words:

“If a sculpture can bring beauty and light into a life, even for a moment, then life is changed in a small way and a small impact has the potential to change the world; the butterfly effect. Relatable images of a caterpillar and butterfly inspire thoughts and feelings of nostalgia and hope, connecting viewers from all walks of life.”

Abe hopes this sculpture will encourage a moment of quiet reflection.

I served on the committee that selected these three pieces, and I’m struck by how they share overlapping themes – a certain call to understanding through illumination, connection through communication and transparency through the use of glass and mirror. Perhaps our subconscious minds were drawn to these themes this year in particular.

We are living through a pandemic during which we have been mandated to isolate, distance and “shut down.” We’re in this together, yet apart. The dichotomy and protracted time frame leaves many feeling adrift. In a world of substitution, where Zoom substitutes in person meetings and education, take-out food substitutes in person dining, facetime substitutes family visits, you may be yearning for connection more than ever.

Artists speak to us through art, the messages we receive may be intended or unintended – dependent on our unique experiences, history, frame of mind and points of reference. Equal to the message is the moment of connection – or that we had a connection at all; the singular moment of discovery and the trailing thoughts and emotions it leaves in its wake, binding us together. Pieces of art are seeds planted in our community, planted in our consciousness, planted in our hearts.

by | Mar 11, 2021