New public art piece could be on display in Riverfront Park as early this summer

Beaver was one of four finalists for the new artwork in Riverfront Park.

SPOKANE, Wash. — A new public art piece by a Washington artist could soon make its home in Riverfront Park.

“Beaver” (working title) was selected by the Joint Art Committee from a group of four finalists. A call was put out earlier this year for artists to submit their designs for a new public art piece. Artists from across Washington, Idaho and Oregon were asked to create an interactive piece that continues with the tradition set by current art at the park, like the Big Red Wagon and Garbage Goat.

Twenty six artists submitted their designs, but Saya Moriyasu‘s work was the JAC’s favored design. Moriyasu is based out of Seattle, but spends half of the year at her studio in Soap Lake.

The bronze sculpture is based on Moriyasu’s story of a beaver named Saka’am, the Salish word for moon, who had creative ideas and crafted a rainbow-colored hat to wear. The piece is proposed to be a sitting area that would allow visitors to sit on the beaver’s tail and swivel in a full circle.

Melissa Huggins, Executive Director of Spokane Arts, said the JAC liked the piece because it is colorful, whimsical and because beavers still live in the park. Huggins said the JAC is waiting to hear if the Spokane Tribe will partner with them for the project and once that is decided, a story, text for the base of the sculpture and name will be finalized.

A site for the piece has not been decided. Spokane Arts and Parks Dept. staffers are narrowing down a list of possible sites.

The JAC is now recommending the design to move forward. It will go before the Riverfront Park Committee of the Park Board and, if they accept the recommendation, it will go to a vote during the Park Board’s next meeting.

If the piece is selected it could be on display in the park as early as August of this year.

Below are the four finalists for the project: