Hailey Mayor Rick Davis commemorated Blaine County's first permanent piece of public art Wednesday. The air was crisp, even cold, in the midday light as Davis shared his enthusiasm for "Timeless Portal," a 1,600-pound sculpture made of steel and travertine stone fabricated by Bellevue artist Mark Stasz.
"Art, as an element, gives an identity to the city, making a place different, special and attractive," Davis said. "As with the Statue of Liberty in New York and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, works of art can be symbols for cities, reminding people of the uniqueness of where they live."
"Timeless Portal" is in the shape of a crescent that frames valley views. Static, three-tiered arcs of steel jut up from a trapezoid pedestal with the travertine inset on a second arc.
"To me, it's like a natural form that's blossoming," Stasz said, as Hailey artist Tom Teitge congratulated him on his achievement.
Stasz was chosen from a pool of artists to fulfill a $10,000 city commission. A panel created under Hailey's Percent for Art program selected three finalists from a call for artists before Stasz was chosen in late July.
The sculpture stands more than 12 feet tall on a sweep of city property along state Highway 75 in front of Roberta McKercher Park. Funding for the sculpture came from sources that included private and corporate donors, the city of Hailey, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Idaho Commission on the Arts.
Michael Faison, executive director of the Idaho Commission of the Arts, said at the commemoration that public works of art combined with a beautiful natural setting like Hailey's can help produce more creativity and, in turn, prosperity.
"I'm happy to be able to support this work," he said.
Luke Ramsey, who helped meld the steel and stone materials, said fabrication is top secret, but submitted that nearly invisible seams in the piece are actually careful welds between sheets of steel.
The installation leads a wave of Hailey public art. Hailey's "percent-for-art" ordinance requires that 1.25 percent of the value of the city's capital-improvement projects be spent on construction and maintenance of public art.
As the Hailey rodeo grounds are redeveloped, artists Teitge, Bill Amaya, Ellen Nasvik, Troy Passey and Marie Stewart will be integrating more public work totaling $70,000 in value into the project, said Tracy Anderson, Hailey's public art coordinator.
"This is a visible demonstration of the prosperity of a city," Faison said. "I look forward to many more such projects in the future."