Art Around the Roundabout

Roughing in the Roundabout

While covering the closure of the Keene Road Bridge this week, I asked Richland Civil Engineer Steve Stairs why the new roundabout at Leslie and Clearwater hasn’t been landscaped yet.

“There’s been a change,” Stairs told me.

The blank canvas

At its completion in May, the cities of Kennewick and Richland had planned to haul in basalt, lay sod, and plant shrubbery. But a month later, drivers continue to negotiate the roundabout’s barren nucleus of dirt–and dust when the wind occasionally kicks up (For non-locals, the Tri-Cities has a bit of reputation for its windstorms).

What’s the hold up? Instead of rock, grass, and bushes, the traffic and public works departments have decided this southern entrance to the two cities calls for some artwork.

The cities have commissioned local artist Michael Rastovich and his son Joseph, who have come up with this. Bunch Grass,  a steel sculpture that will welcome motorists from Oregon and Seattle, and greet daily commuters and the school children at Cottonwood Elementary.

Rastovich says the finished piece may look a little different from these renderings. He’ll be out at the roundabout Tuesday when the concrete guys pour the footings for the piece, and then he’ll go from there.

Rastovich says Bunch Grass and the roundabout should be completed by fall.

So what are you thinking? Typically, when a city commissions an artist to create something for a public building, park, or street corner, the resulting unveiling raises eyebrows and sometimes a stink; some people will love it, some will call it a waste of taxpayers money,  and if you ask some, they’ll respond, “What artwork?”




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6 responses to “Art Around the Roundabout

  1. Just wondering how it will be repaired after the first careless driver crashes over the top of it? Lot easier to repair/replace basalt columns.

  2. Anonymous

    I think the cities are wasting money on landscaping. A nice art structure or dryland shrubs and grasses, a one-time expense makes more sense than wasting taxpayer money on watering grass and trees in every roundabout.

  3. Anonymous

    1. Why did the city not allow taxpayers to voice their opinion (much like voting on this blog) prior to “commissioning” an artist to create an expensive work of art?
    2. There is nothing on this artist’s website that would indicate past experience with a sculpture of this level (there was one other that I could find).
    3. I don’t have a problem with art or sculpture vs. landscaping, just wish the government would stop wasting the taxpayer’s money in a tough economic time.

  4. Anonymous

    Art is ok as long that we (taxpayers) do not pay 5 times the real cost and it does not look awful. Something like round a bouts , ladscaping would be ok at these tough times.

  5. Tried to vote, Kevin, but there is no “enter or vote” button that I can find, and the enter key doesn’t do it…….
    Give me landscaping any day! Have a real hard time calling that stuff “art”, since apes and elephants seem to do just as good of a job…….. Just saying……

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