By Sarah Schrock
There’s an exciting series of projects getting off the ground, or rather coming to the ground, that are sure to keep Twisp on the map. (I am not talking about the fire incident maps — we already have that notoriety well-claimed).
The Gateway Project, enabled by a Complete Streets Grant from the State Department of Commerce, is well underway as part of the first phase of implementing the Twisp Revitalization Plan. The Revitalization Plan suggests several ideas to beautify and invigorate public spaces throughout town. Public art has a way of creating curiosity and demonstrates pride in place. The Gateway, along with future wayfinding and more public art, are part of a strategy to invite people to visit a little longer.
A volunteer committee — headed by the mayor and composed of council members, staff, planning commission members, and some members-at-large that represent different arts or community leaders — has been meeting for months to begin implementing the plan. Full disclosure: I am a member of the committee. The TERC committee, or so we are called, meets monthly to flush out the priorities and move the projects forward.
As part of the plan to revitalize dull or unattractive spaces, some recent changes to the skyline have already been implemented, like the removal of the oil tanks next to Quality Lube. Next door, the transition of the iconic corner once home to Methow Powersports may soon be a spot for food and beverage. The old service station, bought by Clint and Lina Estes, will undergo a remodel in the months to come. This past Friday, Trent Whatley hosted a barbecue on the site for an end-of-summer celebration with friends, invigorating the blighted corner. Also, soon to arrive on a street near you — solar-powered streets lamps downtown!
Now, imagine driving into town and a beautiful sculpture captures your eye on each side of the road, instead of the PUD substation and sunflower signs that currently welcome you. The artworks form a threshold, evoking a sense of enclosure and arrival. It will be one-of-a-kind, unique to Twisp, and telling of the artistic talents that inhabit this valley. The intention is to create a place-making device that draws you in. It will spark some interest, make you slow down, and take in the town a little more intimately.
A bid to artists went out in June to elicit project proposals and design concepts. The selection committee includes the TERC core members along with selected business leaders to represent a broad representation of economic interests. Out of 10 submittals, three artists or artist teams were narrowed down by the selection committee. Among the three finalists, which included the local artist Hannah Viano and a combo team from Seattle and Twisp — Mona Zellers, Jack Chaffin and Tim Odell — all have local connections to the valley, and their proposals reflected their keen knowledge of the place.
After interviews and project presentations from the finalists, the committee awarded the project to local artist team Perri and Craig Howard. The artist couple, who have studios at TwispWorks, have a long history of public art. This is the first time the couple is collaborating on the project in Twisp. Stay tuned for the public unveiling of the project as the committee and artists develop the public engagement portion of the project.
Moving on to other news: Dawn at the library would like everyone to know that the air conditioning is working and the air is clean inside, so it’s a great place to take reprieve from the smoke.
The library’s summer reading program will host two more programs: on Aug. 22 at 11 a.m., a magic show with illusion master Alex Nicolazzo (a local favorite); and wrapping up the season on Aug. 29 at 11 a.m., the final ice cream party and raffle will be held in the Community Center gym. In addition to the summer program, Dawn has been a regular visitor to free lunch in the Twisp Park on Thursdays this summer, where she captivates the kids with stories as they gobble down their goods. The final summer lunch will be served in the park on Friday (Aug. 17).