Wood you look at that!

Meet the artist selected for the Creative District’s new wayfinding project

Alli Patton
Posted 2/18/21

What Jonah Trople describes as “near-human” in stature, the sculptures that will soon garnish Port Townsend’s new Creative District will have a familiarity, or rather, a human-like …

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Wood you look at that!

Meet the artist selected for the Creative District’s new wayfinding project

Posted

What Jonah Trople describes as “near-human” in stature, the sculptures that will soon garnish Port Townsend’s new Creative District will have a familiarity, or rather, a human-like energy about them. They have “these curves and these shapes … the balance and the equilibrium stacked upon each other gives them this energy, this movement,” he says. 

In May 2020, Port Townsend was granted a Creative District designation from ArtsWA. This new district will expand the town’s already vibrant creative economy while also building a bridge between audiences and artists. 

Trople, a multidisciplinary artist, designer, and Port Townsend resident, was chosen to compose the first Wayfinding Infrastructure Project for the new district that links Downtown, Uptown, and Fort Worden. His artistic style involves a “bold, playful, and deceptively simple aesthetic to weave together the ideas of magic and memory with the themes of the human condition, cosmic history, and place,” as described in Trople’s artist statement.

For the inaugural project, he plans to fabricate five cedar sculptures, all nearly 7 feet tall. A marriage between primitive and postmodern, the almost monolithic sculptures will work as “art markers” to signify one’s arrival in the new Creative District. 

The use of locally-sourced and milled cedar, and the utilization of as much reclaimed wood as possible, was significant in this artistic venture. The relationship between the medium and the community are symbolic. Since its inception, wood has been a backbone of Port Townsend.

“It’s been this staple in Port Townsend from the Maritime Center to the Woodworking School,” Trople says. Advocating for his medium, he continued: “It’s such a cool material because it continues to move and change even after it’s been cut down.” 

“They create their own contrast,” he adds. “They’re living, the wood is living. The sculptures and their forms are living.”

The cedar will be white-washed and sealed, but with time and coastal wear, the art markers will display a natural patina. Not unlike the solitary boats in the Haven, homesick for the Sound, or the lonesome pier pilings at Union Wharf, these pillars will stand in all their wooden glory, ever-changing among the elements. 

Created as a set, the sculptures resemble a family. As they are placed in their respective homes around the community, their forms will appear congruent.

“I feel like that’s fun because they’re familiar to one another, so when you see one and then you see another, you’re going to make that connection,” the artist says.

Two markers will border Downtown with one marker announcing one’s Uptown arrival. With one placed near the library and one more located at the entrance of Fort Worden, each sculpture will represent a different field of the creative community in Port Townsend from the literary to the culinary to the visual arts. 

Trople will also design a graphic image for up to 60 directional signs along with the Creative District logo. 

A QR code will adorn the signage and art markers, linking to the Creative District’s website for more information on the district and the wayfinding project.

Like all art, these structures were formed with intention, to stir emotion. They were designed to resonate with the human spirit, to invoke inward reflection, to seek insight within oneself. 

“I want the viewer to be intrigued and inspired, kind of filled with a curiosity. I want them to go find the other ones and explore Port Townsend.

“But I also want them to make their own personal associations within themselves,” Trople says. 

The Creative District Wayfinding Infrastructure Project is an effort led by the Port Townsend Main Street Program’s Economics Committee — is scheduled for completion in late June.

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