Four out-of-state artists are in the running to create a piece of public art that will become the centerpiece of a new Congress Square.

The artists, who hail from New York, Colorado and California, were chosen from nearly 100 applicants. They will be invited to Portland on Aug. 8 for interviews, a site visit and a public presentation, the city said in a news release Tuesday.

The city also posted samples of the four artists’ work on its website.

“The Congress Square Artist Selection Committee is looking forward to bringing four outstanding, internationally known artists to Portland,” Portland Public Art Committee member Alison Hildreth said in a statement. “Collaboration is important for this project and these four individuals have worked collaboratively with urban designers and community members in the past.”

The finalists are Ned Kahn of Sebastopol, California; Patrick Marold of Denver; and Matthew Ritchie and Sarah Sze, both of New York City.

Following their visit, the Public Art Committee will make a recommendation to the City Council, which will have final say.

The announcement, which comes amid controversy of public art commissioned for Woodfords Corner, marks a significant milestone in the community’s effort to remake Congress Square, including the small park that was the center of a fierce debate in 2013. After a citizen initiative in 2014 reversed a City Council decision to sell the land to a developer, the city resumed efforts to improve it and extended the effort to the entire intersection of Congress, High and Free streets.

On June 3, the city announced that Philadelphia-based WRT had been selected to come up with a plan to redesign the busy five-way intersection, which saw 10,500 vehicles to more than 15,000 vehicles a day in 2013.

The vision statement guiding the redesign emphasizes Congress Square’s location in the center of the city’s Arts District and the importance of making it inviting to all types of people and modes of transportation. “As a gateway intersection, the redesigned Congress Square places priority on the pedestrian experience and safety while accommodating all transportation modes in an efficient manner,” the statement reads.

Lin Lisberger, who chairs the Public Art Committee and is a nonvoting member of the Congress Square Art Selection Committee, said she anticipates the artwork will be located mostly in Congress Square Park, though some components may be placed elsewhere in the square.

“Because it is the heart of the Arts District, we really want it to have a very powerful place-making quality,” Lisberger said. “We’re really looking for something that will be integrated with the design of the square and have its own uniqueness.”

Although 97 artists responded to the city’s call for submissions, most were ruled out because of requirements for community collaboration and experience creating large pieces of outdoor art that can last for 20 to 25 years, Lisberger said. The committee then contacted more artists to fill out the finalists.

Lisberger said the committee, which is funded annually through an allocation of a half-percent of the city’s Capital Improvements Project budget, has saved up $225,000 for the project over the last four years and anticipates having to raise more money to complete and install the project.


Comments are not available on this story.