After four years of planning and construction, the art installation from salvaged ornamental pieces left after the 2002 Weatherwax High School fire is finally complete. Community leaders and citizens gathered Saturday at the sculpture, which is located on Simpson Avenue and Park Avenue in Aberdeen, for a dedication ceremony.
Mayor Bill Simpson said the sculpture, which has been dubbed “Breaker,” was designed to commemorate the Weatherwax family and the historic high school. It burned in a spectacular blaze and left the community grieving for the landmark building. Several local agencies joined forces to create the piece, including the Grays Harbor Community Foundation, the Aberdeen Arts Commission and the City of Aberdeen.
The project began in 2009 when Patrick Farwell of the Aberdeen Arts Commission learned the Aberdeen School District was considering selling the stones salvaged from the Weatherwax High School demolition.
He alerted Aberdeen businessman Tom Quigg and the two of them talked to someone from the school district and struck a deal. The city took control of the stones, intending to build something that could be enjoyed by the public.
The arts commission bounced around several ideas, including an amphitheater or a new entrance sign. Then, about a year after acquiring the materials, it decided on a sculpture. But the arts commission still needed funding.
Several members of the Weatherwax family have donated millions of dollars to the Grays Harbor Community Foundation, so an alliance between the two organizations seemed natural, Quigg said. The foundation agreed to foot the bill for the project, allocating a $104,000 budget.
“But we still didn’t know what we were going to do or where it was going to be,” Quigg said. “But everybody was on board.”
The organizations hired a Seattle-based company, 4 Culture, as consultants for the project and began looking for artists. Quigg said 56 artists from Washington, Oregon and British Columbia applied for the job. A panel of art lovers and community leaders chose Adam Kuby, a Portland-based artist.
“I thought he nailed it,” said Cath Brunner of 4 Culture. “Nothing could be better for this location and the use of these stones.”
Kuby said creating the piece was challenging — arranging the stones artistically was like putting together a giant puzzle. He said the sculpture’s shape, a loose interpretation of a curved wave, symbolizes the Harbor. He hopes the surrounding plants, which are blue-green in color, will fill in and cause an ocean-like affect.
“People are going to know what a wave is 100, 200 years from now,” Kuby said. “For me, this piece is like a moment in time. And the time is now.”