Two New Sculptures Are Shining A Light On The Lower Cape Arts Community

by Ryan Bray
Wind Dance, designed by Chatham artist Tom Odell, will soon grace the center of the new roundabout at the intersection of Routes 28 and 39 in South Orleans.  COURTESY PHOTO Wind Dance, designed by Chatham artist Tom Odell, will soon grace the center of the new roundabout at the intersection of Routes 28 and 39 in South Orleans. COURTESY PHOTO

ORLEANS – For years, the intersection of Route 28 and 39 posed dangers for motorists trying to navigate their way in and out of South Orleans. But a new roundabout has not only eased those traffic issues, but will also be the site of the most prominent piece of public art in town.

On Tuesday, “Wind Dance,” a 13.5-foot-tall steel sculpture designed by Chatham artist Tom Odell, will be delivered and situated in the roundabout’s center. Its arrival marks the close of a years-long effort by the Orleans Improvement Association, in cooperation with the town and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, to bring the sculpture to town.

The sculpture is one of two public art pieces that are due to be situated around town in the coming weeks. On Monday, April 22, the base of a second sculpture is expected to be set in a smaller circle downtown at the intersection of Brewster Cross Road and Main Street, this one planned and coordinated by the Orleans Cultural District.

“It’s really interesting that this is all happening at once. This is amazing,” said JoAnna Keeley of the cultural district.

Wind Dance is a sculpture in two pieces. The taller piece measures 13.5 feet in height, with the second piece measuring just over 11.5 feet. Nancy Jorgensen of the Orleans Improvement Association said together, the sculpture pieces weigh 1,345 pounds.

Reached by phone Monday, Odell said Wind Dance is meant to “convey the relationship and interaction of a partnership.”

“It’s two separate pieces, and they kind of relate to each other,” he said.

The association’s mission is to “preserve and enhance the physical character of Orleans,” Jorgensen said, noting that the nonprofit has contributed $425,000 worth of projects to the town since it started in 1986. The association has spent $47,500 on the roundabout sculpture, she said.

Jorgensen said in 2016, the association became interested in bringing a sculpture to the new roundabout as an alternative to decorating the center with flowers and other plantings. She said the town’s original plan for the center called for more than 500 plantings. But with no earmarked budget for maintenance or irrigation, the association wanted to explore another option.

“You can’t get volunteers to walk in the middle of a circle and weed a garden while traffic is zooming around you,” she said.

After getting approval from local officials, including the town’s department of public works, the association solicited design ideas for a sculpture from local artists. Jorgensen said five were considered, and the association found that Odell’s concept best matched the association’s criteria.

“We left it really broad and wide open so they could be creative and interpret it in any way that they wanted,” she said. “And what he submitted we thought was a perfect fit.”

A key feature of Wind Dance is the use of weathering steel, which Jorgensen said has given the sculpture’s original gray hue a more colorful shade of bronze. The sculpture was completed in December and has since been weathering outdoors in Rumford, R.I., where it was fabricated by Amaral Custom Fabrications.

“When it rusts, the rust layer becomes more of a protective layer than regular mild steel,” Odell said. “It goes to a little different color, and we really liked that.”

On April 23, the sculpture will be delivered from Rhode Island to the roundabout by way of a flatbed truck, bringing to an end a prolonged process of planning and review, including by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Jorgensen said the project holds special interest to the state agency, as it marks the first installation of a public art display on a roundabout on a state road.

“They’re very proud of it, and I hope they’re even prouder once they see it in,” she said. “They’re very invested in it.”

Meanwhile, final work on the roundabout itself is expected to wrap up at the end of May. An official ceremony honoring the sculpture will be held in late May or early June when all the work is completed, Jorgensen said.

Once set, Wind Dance stands to serve as a permanent emblem of South Orleans.

“It’s nice,” Odell said. “I haven’t thought about that all that much. But it enters your mind that it will be here for a long while, and it’s exciting to do that.”

Downtown, “Ripple Effect,” designed by Orleans artist Dave Holbrook, is due to be installed in the coming weeks. The eight-foot-tall bronze sculpture has a black granite base and features three different oars meant to represent both Orleans’ indigenous history as well as its maritime heritage.

“What they were looking for is a sculpture that would represent a seaside community and sort of reference past, present and future,” Holbrook said. “That’s sort of it, just something historical and appropriate for the town.”

Keeley, who served on the cultural district’s public art selection committee that helped commission the project, said the sculpture links the town’s past and present, representing “a connection to those that went before and a celebration of what is now.”

“I think there’s a creation of a sense of space,” she said. “We can look at that and it challenges us to think about something that’s beyond ourselves.”

Ripple Effect was funded through state money that was budgeted as part of streetscape work along a stretch of Main Street in recent years, Keeley said. The selection committee, which included representation from the cultural district, the improvement association and the town’s architectural review committee, among other groups, set criteria for the sculpture, after which a request for proposals was put out to solicit designs from local artists.

In a statement Monday, the cultural district said the sculpture is in the “final throes” of fabrication by Green Foundry in Eliot, Maine. The granite base from Cape Cod Memorials in Brewster is expected to be put in on Monday, with full installation expected in early May.

“It’s unbelievable,” Holbrook said of the sculpture’s impending installation. “It’s totally exciting.”

Both the roundabout and downtown sculptures have been much discussed, but Keeley said there are actually more public art pieces around town than people may be aware of. The cultural district has a map of 14 in town designed for groups and families to tour, she said.

“It’s really quite amazing,” she said. “It’s like a 30-minute walk. We just don’t think about us having that many, but we do have a lot of smaller ones.”

Looking ahead, Keeley said the cultural district is considering planning other sculptures around town, including some that could populate “pocket parks” around the community.

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