A former waterfront industrial artifact, the acid ball, will be relocated to a new park, embellished with glass beads, and transformed into a beacon of light for the city.

The acid ball, which was part of the former Georgia-Pacific industrial operations on the waterfront, is being turned into a glowing piece of public art. After reviewing the jury’s recommendation and considering significant public comment, the Bellingham Arts Commission recommended to Mayor Kelli Linville that “Waypoint” by Mutuus Studios be selected as the embellishment sought in the City’s Call for Proposals. The Mayor issued her approval of this recommendation shortly after the Commission final meeting on January 18.

“I appreciate the jury and Arts Commissioner’s hard work on deliberating this difficult choice,” said Mayor Kelli Linville. “This will be an exciting addition to our newest waterfront park.”

Over 26 creative ideas from all over the world were submitted in response to the Call. The jury and Arts Commission observed the acid ball is a formidable, interesting and beautiful piece as-is, independent of any embellishments. The industrial rivets, banding, and rusty patina that has evolved over time exhibits a powerful, otherworldly presence.

Many of the proposals involved painting, sawing, puncturing and otherwise altering the ball from its original form, including a popular piece by local artist Aaron Loveitt that would transform the ball into a globe sundial. Although these ideas were intriguing to the jurors and Arts Commissioners, ultimately they were supportive of Mutuus Studio’s minimalist approach of encapsulating the ball in a transparent coating of luminescent glass beads.

“We were intrigued by the idea of applying a newer industrial material onto the existing industrial object in a way that gives it new life,” said AnMorgan Curry, director of the Mindport Gallery downtown and one of the jurors. “This proposal encapsulates the past and highlights the existing beauty of the object while engaging the viewers in a fresh relationship with the acid ball.”

The glass coating is durable and self-cleaning, posing minimal maintenance and safety concerns, and reflects back to sources of light, allowing for a constantly evolving visual experience. This luminosity will be enhanced by the installation of LED lighting to activate the piece both day and night.

The project is being paid for by the City’s One Percent for the Arts program, which allocates 1percentĀ of large capital projects for the incorporation of public artwork. The piece will be located in Whatcom Waterway Park near the Granary Building. The new park is scheduled to begin construction this year and will be open to the public in 2018.

by Darby Cowles, Planning and Community Development / January 23, 2017

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