It’s been more than two years since the Veterans of Foreign Wars Let ‘er Buck Post 922 presented their idea for a veterans memorial to the Pendleton City Council, and it could be another year and a half before the idea comes to fruition.
The VFW in partnership with the city is making progress on the project, said Charles Denight, the chairman of the Pendleton Arts Committee.
The arts committee will meet April 25 at the Pendleton Center for the Arts to discuss putting out a request for qualifications for artists to design the installation.
Once the committee has received all submissions, Denight said it will narrow its list of qualified artists to three finalists, who will submit concept art of the memorial. He said the committee wants to involve the public in the selection process.
Although the artists will presumably put their own spin on the project, the basic idea for the memorial is set.
Located at a dormant fountain near the intersection of Highway 11 and Southeast Court Avenue, the memorial is supposed to feature five, 16-inch medallions placed on basalt columns, each medallion representing a branch of the military. The columns will be placed in a circular formation that surrounds a piece of art that is designed by the artist.
The request for qualifications includes mention of the memorial’s $123,753 price tag, but the exact breakdown of how the city is going to pay for it is an open question.
Organizers have already crossed some things off their checklist: the VFW has acquired the basalt columns while the city council agreed to buy the five bronze medallions in 2018.
But how much more money will come from the city’s art fund — a fund derived from a small earmark in the lodging room tax — depends on how much money the project is able to raise in private fundraising.
Denight said the fundraising effort will start this summer when organizers approach individuals about contributing to the project. Once the committee selects an artist and a design is approved, the fundraising campaign will be expanded to include the public.
The committee plans to collect all requests for qualifications by Sept. 20, select a finalist by March 1, 2020, and hold a dedication ceremony for the completed memorial in January 2021.
Denight said the timeline is intended to give the artist time to design, create, and install the memorial.
While the veterans memorial is still more than a year down the road, the arts committee is already looking ahead to future sites for public art.
The committee will spend part of their next meeting prioritizing various spots that members have visited for potential new art including areas around the airport, a lot near the Rotary sign on Eastgate, a field in front of the driveway leading up to Blue Mountain Community College, and an Interstate 84 overpass.
Denight said one of the committee’s next steps will be to figure out what kind of art would go in one of these places.
“It’s all up in the air right now,” he said.