- KidsUp: The Next Generation of Play
- @ Battle Point Park
- 11299 Arrow Point Drive
- Bainbridge Island, WA
- Open Daily Dawn to Dusk
- September 4, 2021 (Opened) to 2041 (another generation) and beyond…..
- (All photos by Bill Baran-Mickle)
As you approach the main entrance to the (nearly all) new KidsUp playground, you are flanked by three sculptures preserved to grace the playground’s second version, affectionately called “KidsUp: A New Generation of Play.” To the left is “Salmon Fish Ladder” by Baran-Mickle with painted salmon by Cris Cannestra, and the carved Northwest Native American style “Eagle” and large “Mask” by David Franklin. All are suggestive of the playground’s theme for its sense of place, the Pacific Northwest. These and several other artworks are indeed now over twenty years old, the technical timeline for a generation!
The original playground was community-built in 2001. Upgrades to buildings, parks and structures are necessary for many reasons. Physically, changes are vital for safety reasons, and design and functions are needed to change due to new regulations and evolving needs of the community including community consciousness. Full disclosure, I not only created an artwork for the original playground but was on the Art Committee that sought artworks, and my entire family worked hard to help build the playground along with nearly 1000 others. It was, and I suspect remain, highly unusual to have artworks integrated into playgrounds. The original committee was an enthusiastic group and the resulting art plan may have included a few too many artworks.
KidsUp 2.0, as I refer to it, has a well-thought-out plan for play with optimal flow of childish activity while knowing parents need to keep an eye out for what’s going on. Bainbridge Island Metro Park and Recreation District, Bainbridge Island Parks Foundation along with its parent-infused committee for ideas on the structure, plan and artworks received donated time from the local, but internationally known, firm of SH/R Studios (aka Studio Hanson/Roberts). While their expertise is creating Zoos and Aquariums, their Senior Associate, Chris Cain, specializes in creating playgrounds. The construction was overseen by David Harry, the Park Services Superintendent.
The plan is basically like a guided tour of Bainbridge Island, well known and long loved features such as the ferry, frog rock, orca whales, piers, and so forth. It gives a humorous nod to Seattle’s “Fremont Troll,” (1989 by artists Steve Badanes, Donna Walters, Ross Whitehead, Will Martin) with an octopus under a pier holding a car captive, created by Bainbridge Island’s Doug Slingerland. Kids playing beneath this sculpture in the sand area can look up and discover it. The Pier looks out over the sand play area as well as the ferry and orcas, and, as of mid-April, you can look out to find a giant kraken tentacle popping straight out of the sandy area. The nearly eight-foot-tall bronze “Tentacle” is beautifully wrought, likely cast from a carved wood original by David Franklin. Being child-friendly, this may be the only time children can hug an octopus. Perhaps some of them may want to explore mollusks and other sea creatures more in depth in their future.
Bainbridge Island Metro Park and Recreation District, Bainbridge Island Parks Foundation assessed the condition of the many artworks of the original playground. Many were damaged, some were thought to be in good condition and fit the thematic approach for the re-imagined playground. And others were either offered back to the artists or kept for possible future uses. All of the older works that were kept have been beautifully re-sited around the paths of the playground. From the main wooden towers that artist David Franklin built still hold the four Northwest Coast Native carved and painted reliefs. Artist Craig Jacobrown’s giant “Leap Frog” sculpture, with its back carved with Northwest Coastal design and cast in bronze, now stand more easily seen, proud and strong while being playfully inviting. A sculpture of two raccoons, (in concrete?) is also well placed at a crossroads of paths where it appears you have surprised the raccoon pair busily discovering something of their own.
The most kinetic artforms of the playground is the “Jenni & Kyle We-Go-Round.” As it suggests, this ground level merry-go-round play structure is designed to in include wheel chairs or kids who need easily accessible entry and use. However, the “Jenni & Kyle We-Go-Round” has panels instead of the common open pipework to hold on to while rotating, and the panels are indeed special. The four panels were designed, digitally painted and printed by Doug Slingerland. Slingerland says they are “360-degree caricature view of Battle Point Park.” They are beautiful, lightly abstracted scenes of the greater park: images of the pond, kite flying in an open field, paths to the Richie Observatory and it’s Equatorial Sundial, and kids, of course. Each is stylized but very readable with skies that give a northwest feeling of ever-pending rain, recalling Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” painting of 1889. Just imagine these scenes passing by one after another, wonderful still or in motion. It is its own virtual tour of the whole park.
There is plenty of continuity between the original playground and the re-imagined, updated version. The Tower and Pavilion structures and the artworks attached were refreshed. The Leap Frog, Raccoon, large Mask sculptures and Salmon Run wall relief panels were all maintained but now much better positioned for discovery and enjoyment. The Pier Overlook’s hidden octopus, the We-Go-Round panels and the recently installed large Tentacle were added. There is room for the consideration of additional artworks over time. The “KidsUp: Next Generation of Play” is a well thought out playground that earns its enhanced name, inviting the next generation of kids to explore and run off steam. The addition of the unique artworks sprinkled around the its paths and grounds make this playground quite special.
CLICK HERE TO READ OTHER FIRST FRIDAY FOCUS & EBB and FLOW ARTICLES BY BILL
Ebb & Flow: The Art of Jan and Chris Hopkins
Ebb & Flow: “Threads of Connection” Jason Devinney and Caroline Cooley Browne
Ebb & Flow: Tracy Lang
ABOUT BILL BARAN-MICKLE: 2020 Island Treasure Awardee. Recently, Bill has enjoyed exhibiting in several international art biennial exhibitions. Of the three in which he has participated, he won Third Place for Sculpture from the European Confederation of Art Critics in the Chianciamo Biennale, at the Chianciano Art Museum in Italy in 2011, and First Place in Applied Arts in the London Biennale of 2013. In 2013 alone, he will have participated in eight exhibitions: from London to a two-person exhibition near home. In addition, Bill was asked to be a representative for CCAC’s exhibition celebrating 100 years of the Metals Department, and a mix of group shows in New York City, Miami, Seattle and Las Vegas. Bill is the designer of the 10 foot Equitorial Bowstring Sundial located at the Richie Observatory in Battle Point Park on Bainbridge Island, WA and completed in 2015.