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February 10, 2010 > Public art selected for sports center

Public art selected for sports center

By Shavon Walker

Union City's Public Art Review Board selected Saori Ide and Jonathan Russell to produce an exterior art installation at Union City Sports Center. Council formally commissioned the piece when it met on January 27. The work, titled "Circle of Life," will be installed in the center of the approach to the Sports Center.

A request for qualifications (RFQ) was issued in the early summer 2009. Fifteen artists responded. The Public Art Board (PAB) reviewed the submittals on September 3 and 17 and recommended five finalists for Council's consideration.

$100,000 has been designated for public art. The five finalists each received a $1,000 stipend to prepare their own proposals consistent with design parameters and other terms and conditions. For example, a sports-related theme was required and a scale model of the artist's concept. The artists presented to Council and the PAB in January 2010.

Ide and Russell originally presented two suggestions in their proposal. The first, called "Twisted Columns," featured two columns twisted on their vertical axis. A pair would have been placed on each side of the Sports Center entrance area on the grass near the sidewalk. Each column would be inlaid with 56 silhouettes of people playing various types of sports.

The second suggestion, which Council chose, is "Circle of Life." It consists of a large stainless steel ring with sports-related imagery on the flat vertical plane. The opening at the bottom will create an arch through which visitors walk as they enter the Sports Center. Again, the circle will be inlaid with 56 images of people engaged in sporting activity. The piece will cost approximately $100,140.

The sculpture will be created in the artists' Berkeley studio using water-jet cutting and welding techniques. The entire sculpture will be powder-coated in a graffiti-proof finish.

"The sculpture will be vandal-proof, weather-resistant and will require minimal maintenance," wrote Ide and Russell in their proposal.

"Our idea is to create a monumental piece to enhance the visual impact to the Sports Center. The images on the circle represent the people of Union City and the sculpture celebrates the community as a whole. The open circle invites people to be a part of the community and part of the experience at the Sports Center," they stated as they explained their vision and the symbolism of the piece.

The artists hope to begin construction of the sculpture by June 2010, after signing their contract and finalizing the design and dimensions. Installation of the new artwork is expected by November 2010.

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