Three finalists vie for $45,000 city art contract

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COEUR d’ALENE — Mock orange is another name for syringa, Idaho’s state flower.

Idaho residents unfamiliar with the moniker may consider visiting with DeeDee Morrison, one of three artists whose sculptures made the final cut to grace a roundabout on Fort Ground Drive.

Morrison was among 109 artists to submit renditions for the space.

Three finalists were chosen last month, and the public has until the end of the day today to vote for one of the three scale models on display inside the Coeur d’Alene Public Library.

Council member Amy Evans, who is on the selection committee, said public opinion will play a big part in which piece earns a place in the roundabout.

“The community’s input is highly valued,” Evans said. “I would encourage everyone to stop in and look at them.”

Once the votes are tallied and the comments reviewed, Evans said, the commission will decide if local artist Jason Sanchez’s upright fountain of water — made from steel that balances a heart — will be chosen over Morrison’s mock orange, or the entry from Houston artist Katherine Taylor: bronzed tree bark, 8 feet high and shined to a gloss.

Morrison’s piece, a metal syringa flower by day and a lighted mock orange by night, from which silhouettes are cut of butterflies, bees, and bugs — pollinators — represents the biodiversity of North Idaho’s flowers and the creatures.

“It’s meant to engage people because it’s aesthetically pleasing,” Morrison said. “But it’s also meant as a teaching tool.”

Taylor’s piece comprises dark strands of bronze, clustered and curled 8 feet high, that represent trees, their bark, and their gnarled and tentative nature. The bark is buffed to a high gloss on its inside surface and highlighted with a night light.

“All of my art is nature-driven, and Coeur d’Alene is a nature mecca,” Taylor said.

The textured bronze represents the area’s industrial history, as well as its tie to trees and nature.

The inside of the sculpture is “highly polished making it glow at night,” she said.

The third piece, by Coeur d’Alene artist Jason Sanchez, is a metal fountain that represents the lake and the community’s tie to water. The 2-foot-high heart — representing the French word Coeur, from which the city’s name stems — will include a line from the Idaho Constitution and the U.S. Bill of Rights.

Sanchez’s work alludes to the heart of the city where the statue will be placed.

“It rests at the doorstep of Fort Sherman and the very first establishment of our community,” Sanchez wrote in his artist statement. “The design of this sculpture represents both the nearby lake and river … the life-giving waters at the heart of our community.”

Once a sculpture is chosen, the winning artist will be paid $45,000 and has until June to complete the work. The work will be installed next summer.

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