Public celebration of “Light Reading” artwork

SPOKANE—Washington State University Spokane and the Washington State Arts Commission (WSAC) will be celebrating the newest addition to the State Art Collection on the Riverpoint Campus on September 25. The public ceremony, featuring the artist—Peter Reiquam—is slated for 5 p.m. at the Academic Center, 600 North Riverpoint Boulevard.

“Light Reading” by Reiquam is a lighthearted piece that makes reference to the Riverpoint Library and Academic Center near which it sits. It is an outdoor, open-air reading room for conversation, reflection or contemplation. Sitting atop a textured concrete slab, the artwork features a pair of over-size solid granite armchairs, a fabricated bronze coffee table and two bronze bookcases infilled with lighted, cast-glass books.

“My hope is that this will be a popular gathering place for students, staff and faculty on the Riverpoint Campus,” stated Reiquam.

According to Reiquam, the use of light is the aesthetic, functional, and conceptual key to this project. The books are lit internally so the room—defined by the textured concrete floor—is bathed in a glowing light. Metaphorically, the light emanating from the books is the illumination of knowledge and ideas gained through reading. The radiant books provide a unique light source, making the artwork accessible after dark. The vertical bookcase, as seen from a short distance away, reflects the warmth and luster of the building’s four-story lighted glass entry. The horizontal bookcase, as seen from the granite armchairs, creates a level horizon line across the campus backdrop.

The armchairs are made from dappled green granite called Mountain Green quarried in Jay, New York. The surrounding landscape, as well as the forms and textures of the chair’s neighboring elements are reflected in the stone’s polished surface.

Washington State University Spokane’s Campus Art Committee selected Reiquam from a pool of eligible artists and approved the artist’s proposal for the new artwork. The Campus Art Committee includes local artist Harold Balazs, Nancy Clark Brown, Liz Burroughs, Lanny DeVuono, student Devin Fitzpatrick, Susan Snowdon, and Bruce Thompson.

Art in Public Places Program

Artwork acquired through Washington State’s Art in Public Places Program becomes part of the State Art Collection—a collection of over 4,500 works of art located at state agencies, public schools, and colleges and universities throughout the state. Established by legislation in 1974, the Washington State Arts Commission’s Art in Public Places Program is funded through the state’s capital construction budget. Each time a new state building is built, or when state funding for a building renovation on a college or university campus is over $200,000, one-half of one percent of the state portion of construction costs is used to acquire artwork. Following an established Art in Public Places process, community representatives develop criteria, select artists and review proposals for new artwork. Stewardship of the State Art Collection is shared by the Arts Commission and the agencies where artwork is sited.

About the artist

Reiquam is a Seattle artist whose work ranges from prints and drawings to sculptural furniture, mechanical sculptures and public art projects. He holds a B.F.A. in sculpture from the University of Washington and an M.F.A. in sculpture from Yale University. He was previously employed as the head technician and head of the Sculpture Department at Pratt Fine Arts Center. In addition, Reiquam served as a commissioner on the King County Public Art Commission (now 4Culture). He has taught sculpture at Pratt Fine Arts Center, Cornish College of the Arts and the University of Washington School of Art. He recently joined a group of Seattle area artists in a new public art mentorship program at the City of Seattle’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs to assist emerging artists in the development of their first public art projects. In addition to the production of his own artwork, Reiquam’s business, New Art Projects Company specializes in the fabrication and installation of the work of a variety of architects, designers and other artists.

Notes on the elements of “Light Reading”

· The stone armchairs were built to design specifications by Cold Spring Granite Company in Cold Spring, Minnesota, and installed by a local Spokane firm, Tresko Monument and Washington Stone. Dick Tresko and his crew did an expert job of placing the furniture with care and grace, especially considering each piece weighs approximately 3,000 pounds.

· The glass books were cast in a Seattle studio called Totally Blown Glass. Dehanna Jones, Jackie Mendelson and Kelly McLain lent their expertise to a difficult and delicate task. The glass was cast in a graphite mold produced by Kurt Nordquist of Davinci’s Workshop in Burien, Washington.

· Bob Teeple, a Seattle artist who specializes in animated electronic LED artworks made the lighted circuit boards that provide the glass books with their blue glow.

· Ed Garmon and his crew from Garmon Concrete Construction in Spokane poured the concrete slab and invented a modified trowel for creating the “carpet” texture.

· Reiquam fabricated all of the bronze furniture pieces in his studio in Seattle and trucked them to Spokane where he and Chuck Meyer spent three days assembling the various parts to create “Light Reading.”

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