Installations will welcome visitors to town from either direction
Twisp officials have selected a design for a new “gateway” public art project that will install large metal sculptures at the north and south ends of town.
The goal of the project is to serve as a welcome to people entering Twisp from either direction, and is part of Twisp’s larger initiative to improve the town’s appearance and increase economic vitality.
The selected design evokes the feeling of mountain ranges that are the backdrop for Twisp and the Methow Valley. The sculptures will be made of three perforated, laser-cut steel plates, set parallel to each other to resemble a mountain landscape. They will be about 10 feet tall and will be placed on both sides of Highway 20 at either end of town.
Called “Mountain Home,” the public art will be created by local artists Craig and Perri Howard, a husband-and-wife team. The Howards’ proposal was selected earlier this year from among 10 proposals submitted for the gateway project.
“The gateway is an initiative to bookend both ends of Twisp,” Perri Howard said at a Twisp Council meeting last week, where the artists presented a small-scale model to the council. “People will have a sense of arrival and a sense of place.” At the request of town officials, the artists included the town name as part of the sculpture.
The community will be given an opportunity to view and comment on the proposed project during an open house to be scheduled within the next couple of months, said Mayor Soo Ing-Moody. “The public process is a big part” of the town’s revitalization efforts, she said.
The Town Council last week approved a $60,000 contract with the Howards for the commissioned art project. Funding for the project comes from a $250,000 federal grant called “Complete Streets,” which also includes money for new decorative light fixtures in downtown Twisp, and installation costs for the public art and light fixtures. Both the public art and lighting are expected to be installed next spring.
The metal gateway sculptures will be painted with colors that complement the natural surroundings and will be illuminated in a way that “respects the night sky,” Perri Howard said.
The illumination is for safety and aesthetics, and will also help discourage graffiti, town officials said. The metal sheets will be installed in a concrete foundation, and will be angled slightly in relation to the highway. As motorists approach, the perforations in the metal create visual changes in the sculptures, Craig Howard said.
On the south end of town, the sculptures are proposed to be located just east of Ayers Road within town limits. On the north end of town, the artwork would be installed along the highway south of the Calvary Chapel church, just outside of Twisp town limits. The locations for the sculptures must be approved by Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), said Andrew Denham, Twisp public works director. The sculptures will be within the WSDOT right-of-way.
Denham said landowners adjacent to the proposed locations for the art installations have been contacted and the “general consensus was favorable.”
The town is also proposing extending the 35 miles-per-hour speed limit zone out to the new sign locations, Denham said. “There is a dual purpose. The intent of the entryway is to tell people they are entering Twisp, and get traffic to slow down,” he said.
The Howards had presented two concepts for the gateway project, and the mountain theme was selected by the Twisp Economic Revitalization Committee, which is overseeing projects recommended in an economic revitalization plan adopted by the town last year.
Perri Howard has a studio called Velocity Made Good on the TwispWorks campus and has created many public art projects in her career. Craig Howard has designed and built custom furniture as well as logos and signs, and works primarily in metal. He also consults for nonprofit organizations.