Deedee Morrison has a vision to mark the gateway to downtown Albany: towering wildflowers that tell a story about the importance of agriculture in the mid-valley.
Morrison's idea beat out eight other artwork proposals for an installation on the Oregon Department of Transportation's right-of-way at the corner of Lyons Street and Eighth Avenue. The South Carolinian's work is to be installed by August 2019.
Ed Hodney, director of Parks and Recreation, gave a report on the choice Monday to the Albany City Council.
Morrison, of Greenville, South Carolina, submitted a sculpture proposal that calls for about half a dozen metal wildflowers standing 10 to 12 feet tall. Her initial sketch showed identical coneflowers, but she actually plans to feature a variety of Oregon wildflowers and will be seeking public input on what they should be, Hodney said.
The artist plans to cut images in the leaves of the wildflowers of the bees, birds and butterflies that pollinate the depicted flowers, Hodney said.
"It makes it much more interesting. It's more of a teaching tool, right?" Hodney said. "You begin to tell the story of how that plant came to be."
Hodney said Morrison plans to craft what she can in her own studio, but might be able to make a connection with Albany's metal industry as part of the project.
"We don't have the answers, because we're waiting for the artist to come in and start the conversation with us," he said.
City officials solicited artwork proposals to comply with an ordinance that requires 1 percent of the construction estimates for projects of $500,000 or more be spent on artwork.
Members of the Albany City Council previously had set aside $80,000 for artwork related to construction of the city's new police station and Fire Station 11.
City officials sent out requests for proposals in September and received nine responses. Morrison's scored the highest on the review panel, which was composed of Albany Arts Commission members and city staff.
"The review panel was highly impressed with Morrison's applicable experience, the apparent quality of her work, the research she had performed on Albany before submitting her proposal, her commitment to community engagement in the design of the piece to be installed, and her plan to develop educational materials and activities to share the work with the community after completion," Hodney said in his report.
Morrison plans to have lighting on her work so it can be seen at night, Hodney said. The Oregon Department of Transportation will work with her on any safety concerns.