If keeping your mitts off pieces of art is always a challenge, the DREAM sculpture that opened Friday night in downtown Arlington could be just the ticket. Just make sure you have a current tetanus booster.
Nearly 3 tons of sheet-metal letters, perforated with cutouts of 17,400 flying-bird shapes, were lighted after dark to kick off a two-year run on a lot west of the Levitt Pavilion.
“It’s the first attempt for us to incorporate public art in downtown,” said Tony Rutigliano, president and CEO of Downtown Arlington Management Corp., a nonprofit that collects property taxes from the business center of the city.
The agency commissioned artists Laura Kimpton and Jeff Schomberg, known for the large-word sculptures.
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“I think it distinguishes us from other cities,” Rutigliano said, calling it a “destination for Arlington residents.”
The sculpture also reinforces the city slogan adopted last year — “Arlington: The American Dream City.”
After two years, DREAM will move to the site of the new public library, north of City Hall.
“Public sculpture is good everywhere,” Schomberg said. “It creates community gathering space. It’s a city draw.”
He invited people to touch the 12-foot-tall letters and even climb inside — just not on top, for safety reasons.
He doesn’t try to prevent rust.
“I pretty much let my sculptures patina,” he said.
The DREAM sculpture is the seventh in the 11-year team’s Large Letter Series, Schomberg said.
As a community, we’re trying to do what other communities are trying to, and that is revitalize downtown. But what separates us, in my mind, are the arts and our history. So any chance we get, we should promote and foster that.
Bob Pruitt, who came up with the idea for the sculpture
Bob Pruitt, an area photographer/videographer with professional ties to downtown, came up with the idea when he photographed the artists’ BELIEVE sculpture at the 2013 Burning Man festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.
$75,000 Commission for artists Laura Kimpton and Jeff Schomberg
He pitched the idea to Downtown Arlington, whose members voted in November to put up $25,000 of the $75,000 commission. The Arlington Tomorrow Foundation contributed $25,000, and several individual donors covered the rest, Rutigliano said.
Pruitt said a word adaptation for Arlington “would really help set us apart.”
“As a community, we’re trying to do what other communities are trying to, and that is revitalize downtown,” he said. “But what separates us, in my mind, are the arts and our history. So any chance we get, we should promote and foster that.”
Schomberg, of Reno, Nev., said he had never been to Arlington before the 18-wheeler carrying the sculpture rolled into town.
“I think Arlington’s great,” he said. “Especially now that I have a large-scale artwork here.”
By the numbers
▪ 12 feet tall, 4 feet deep and 55 feet long
▪ Nearly 3 tons
▪ 58 sheets of steel, each with 300 bird cutouts