Change is coming to Bainbridge Island’s City Hall, the first of its kind. Built in 2000 by Miller Hull Architects, the award winning building, and it’s landscaping, included integrated artwork throughout. The most noticeable exterior sculptures are five colorful “topiaries” created by local artist Gayle Bard. The sculpture that greets the public at the main entrance will be decommissioned later this spring. This will be the first artwork to be formally taken out of service, officially decommissioned, from the City’s collection in 29 years. One earlier artwork embedded in the sidewalk near ACE Hardware had been damaged to the point that was removed unceremoniously in 2016.
All the commissioned artworks in the City Hall Building turn 19 years old this year. Bard’s entrance Topiary began to fail in 2014. The Northwest’s weather had been intruding into the sculpture damaging it from the inside out. An attempt was made to repair it in 2015, but was unsuccessful. Made of cast and painted concrete, Bard said she “never thought it would last this long.”
The City of Bainbridge Island’s public art collection is curated and maintained by the Public Art Committee, a part of Arts & Humanities Bainbridge in cooperation with the City. After the repair of 2015 did not last, the artist, the Public Art Committee, and the City agreed it was time for it to be removed.
The silver lining of this first decommissioned artwork is that it opens the same location for a new artwork, something Bard welcomes. On March 5th The City Council approved the location to be part of the expansion of the “Something New” temporary sculpture program begun by the Public Art Committee and Arts & Humanities Bainbridge in 2018. The location is one of three additional locations for the sculpture program, bringing the total to six locations throughout the City.
Bard is well known for her realist landscape paintings, with art on permanent display in Kitsap County, such as the Kitsap County Administration Building, the Bainbridge Library. She has works in the Washington State Art Collection, at schools, hospitals and corporate commissions in the Northwest Region. In 2013 Bard was the subject of Bainbridge Island Museum of Art’s first solo retrospective and the Museum’s first published book, Gayle Bard: A Singular Vision.
Bard’s four other Topiary sculptures remain in place, spread from the City Hall’s rear entrance to the public parking area and the head of the pubic square know for the weekly Farmer’s Market in front of Bainbridge Performing Arts, to be enjoyed for years to come.