Kent’s plump penguins have a companion at the corner of West Meeker Street and Second Avenue South.
The Guardian, a mystical creature art sculpture, stands as a noble steed-like presence next to the penguins, the latest public art project on loan to the Kent Downtown Partnership.
The metal sculpture, a collaborative project among independent artists, arrived Wednesday morning, June 13.
Like the penguins that landed in 2016, The Guardian is made from mostly silverware, handles, steel bars and other recycled materials and shaped by the hands of Greg Bartol, Jenifer Wright, Debbie Drllevich, Anita Schuller, leaders of a multi-artisan team in the Green River College Welding Technologies program.
Bartol’s specialty is welding steel and copper animals, which command attention with their vibrant, torch-created colors and detailed textures. Many of his sculptures can be found on the Green River campus, throughout Auburn and Kent.
Each artist added their own touch to The Guardian, a project that took 80 hours and more than two months to complete. The artwork was originally designed as “the guardian of the forest of trees” the artists had made for the college’s 50th anniversary.
“Everyone kind of interpreted this mystical creature in their own way,” Wright said. “Everyone added their own feeling like, ‘Does it have fur?’ And so that’s how we used the forks. ‘Does it have antlers?’ So we twisted different things for that. Everybody just really came together.”
The winged creature is 4 feet, 5 inches tall, from its steel-stout claws to the top of its head that supports 2-foot antlers. The body is 18-inches wide, with an additional 3 feet for the wings. All told, the sculpture stretches 6½ to 7 feet, nose to tail.
The latest sculpture accompanies the penguins – the group’s other collaborative project – a 10-foot-tall daddy standing next to his 4-foot son. The penguins will stay put, said the KDP, which extended its lease with the artisans for another year.
The Guardian will be a temporary landmark on the empty private lot through December, at which time the KDP will determine if it can stay longer depending on public feedback. The KDP is fully funding and sponsoring the display.
“These are artists who are sensitive about creating something that the public can touch without being hurt so all edges of the sculpture will be smooth,” said Barbara Smith, KDP executive director. “One question that was asked is, ‘How do you keep kids off the horse?’ It will be bolted to the ground. We will provide professional signage that warns people to not climb on the horse.”