The artists behind a unique new sculpture in Altoona say it reflects both the tight-knit nature of the city and a typical feature of the Midwest.
The sculpture “Woven Lines” by Portland, Maine artist Aaron T. Stephan is under construction at the new roundabout at North 1st Avenue and NW 9th Street. It is made of a 1,500-foot-long metal guardrail that swoops into a 20,000-pound knot and will serve as an anchor on the north side of Altoona.
On Monday, the city held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the sculpture, a project that began about four years ago and involved surveys and interviews with community members.
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“The thing that keeps coming up in all of this is that everyone is talking about Altoona being a very tight, tight-knit community,” says Stephan, which has become something of a problem for him during his recent sculpting work in town. very clear.
Stephen said when he started designing the piece and doing research on local and state history, one idea was on his mind: roadside attractions.
“There’s something special about a roadside attraction in the Midwest,” he said: “It’s a striking object that grabs attention while blending personal vision with discovery over time.” .
Stephan said the parapet knot itself became a roadside attraction, which speaks to Altoona’s connectedness and unity. Local residents were involved in coming up with the concept of the sculpture and building it.
First Avenue is expected to reopen soon. Standing 12 feet tall, the sculpture lights up dramatically at night.
About two or three dozen artists have expressed interest in the project, said Alex Payne, a member of the city’s arts council. Those involved in choosing the design were drawn to Stephen’s streetlight work, which propelled him to the top of the list.
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“When everyone saw what he wanted to do with the knot, it stood out, because that’s what we had to do,” Payne said.
Mayor Dean O’Connor said the sculpture was a huge addition to Altoona, and city officials were excited to continue developing the cultural and arts program. The Arts Council has more ongoing projects to be announced.
“Woven Lines” cost about $217,000 and was funded by the city government and the Arts Fund.
Earlier this month, Altoona unveiled another new major artwork, the 100th Freedom Rock.
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