Council selects three new pieces for ‘Silver Box’ art-on-loan program

By Zach Hagadone
Reader Staff

Sandpoint City Council members have selected three pieces of sculpture to be displayed at locations around the city through the Silver Box Program, marking the sixth year of the public art project, which establishes a rotating exhibition of pieces on loan from their creators. 

This year, the city received 16 eligible submissions from a nationwide call for entries, with six meeting the program’s criteria.

Those six pieces were then evaluated by the Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation Commission, resulting in the three recommendations unanimously approved by councilors at the Sept. 6 regular meeting.

Winning submissions for the Silver Box art project (from left to right): “At River’s Edge,” by Anna Lee Harris; “Natural Wavelength” by Ursula Roma; and “Spirit Tree” by Dave Gonzo. Courtesy images.

“I am so excited tonight to present the three recommendations,” said Arts and Historic Preservation Officer Heather Upton, who coordinated with the Sandpoint Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation Commission to review the submissions.

“The commission went through a painstaking process of selecting the perfect ones and they felt very confident in the ones they selected,” she added.

The selected pieces are “Natural Wavelength,” by Cincinnati-based artist Ursula Roma, which will be installed at Fourth Avenue and Church Street; “The Spirit Tree,” by Dave Gonzo, of Sandpoint, to be located at Oak Street and Fourth Avenue; and “At Rivers Edge,” by Bonners Ferry artist Anna Lee Harris at Oak Street and North Fifth Avenue.

Each artist will receive a $1,000 honorarium to pay for transporting and installing their pieces, and the program is funded with $5,159.78 from the Sandpoint Urban Renewal Agency. The  sculptures are on loan, and a component of the Silver Box Program stipulates that should any of the artworks be sold while on display, the city is entitled to a 10% commission on the sale.

This year’s selections will be installed Thursday, Sept. 21 and remain on display until Sept. 21, 2024.

Roma’s piece, “Natural Wavelength,” is an abstract powder-coated steel sculpture, which Upton described as “a great, kind of musical, fun motion,” which fits with the program’s unofficial tradition of installing an “artful whimsical selection” on that location next to the post office.

“Natural Wavelength” measures 46.4 inches by 24 inches by 10 inches, and is not for sale by the artist.

Gonzo’s work, “The Spirit Tree,” is a piece in steel, copper and stone representing, “the balance of masculine and feminine” and through its construction in steel “represents the strength and fortitude of the roots, trunk and branches,” according to his artist’s statement. The copper foliage, meanwhile, “embodies the flexibility, protection and healing elements.”

“The Spirit Tree” measures 38 by 40 by 40 inches and is for sale for $8,000.

Finally, Harris’ piece, “At Rivers Edge,” features a base of hand-painted fish on up-cyled metal, topped with rocks found in Idaho and an otter carved from European granite atop a piece of Washington basalt. A fabricated osprey flies above the sculpture, held aloft on three blue-painted poles.

“She carved it, she painted it, it’s really exciting,” Upton said.

“At Rivers Edge” measures 48 by 28 by 24 inches and is also for sale for $8,000.

Councilor Justin Welker commended Upton and the commission for their work on the program, noting that he watched the video recording from their deliberations, and, “It really was like an hour-long conversation about the six selections you considered.”

“I think you made a great choice to diversify the selection by choosing three artists,” he added.

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