Finalists chosen for public art project at Portsmouth's new parking garage

Union Leader Correspondent
February 13. 2018 11:50PM
“Portsmouth in Time” is one of six design proposals for Portsmouth's new Foundry Place Garage. This proposal is a digitally composed mural depicting the history of the land and people of Portsmouth. The mural would include a 3D digital element described as an “active campus” navigable by the use of a mobile device. (Courtesy)

PORTSMOUTH — The final six public art concepts for Portsmouth’s new Foundry Place Garage have been selected, and committee co-chair Nancy Pearson says the artists competing knocked it out of the park with their designs.

“We could choose any of them and it would be a beautiful outcome,” Pearson said Tuesday.

Groundbreaking for the 600-space public parking area was in September. Due to the fact that the municipal project costs at least $2 million, 1 percent of the cost up to a maximum of $150,000 must be used for public art, under Portsmouth’s Percent for Art ordinance.

Pearson, who is also a city councilor, said a public art committee has been planning the project for a year. A Request for Proposal was sent out, yielding 13 design ideas from 12 artists.

Pearson explained that some of the six final proposals could be combined and the city would still stay within the budget.

Right now, the committee is interviewing artists. The city council will hear the committee’s recommendations March 19.

The “Estuary Project” proposal reads, “As you turn down Deer Street, you notice the garage’s sculpture has just transitioned into the Living Canvas. … Once parked, you descend the Sound Tower. You hear composed music accompanying snippets of an oral history of Portsmouth’s past.” The proposal would come with a one-time cost of $107,885 and an annual cost of $14,000.

The “Lumen Clock” is an homage to public clocks of the past and is an illuminated timekeeping sculpture. Designers say music, bells or chimes could be included.

Video of how it would work is posted on YouTube at The proposal would cost between $87,516 and $113,366.

“Portsmouth in Time” is a digitally composed mural depicting the history of the land and people of Portsmouth. The mural would include a 3D digital element described as an “active campus” navigable by the use of a mobile device. Room would be saved for future artists and displays of modern history.

“The late 20th century and today are well documented and illustrated, providing opportunities to showcase modern human rights movements, like the 2017 Women’s March or Portsmouth PRIDE celebrations, on a very personal scale,” the proposal states. It would cost $109,146.

The “Etched Glass Concept” is an etched glass mural on the focal tower of the building, influenced by the profile of a hard-working fabricator and paying homage to the history of the neighborhood. The design would cost $75,000.

The “Hammer Concept” acknowledges the varied textile and industrial histories on and abutting the site, with the focus on humans being the driving force of the technological development experienced by those industries. It would include 9-foot-tall hammer heads, a 6-foot-wide metal wheel and railroad tracks. There are two variations on the proposal. One would cost $47, 825; the second would cost $97,790, including a 20-foot-long hammer.

The “Map and Products Concept” illustrates various products manufactured by the foundries, including cast iron stone facades, cooking utensils, hardware, hand pumps, machine parts, coal grates and brass andirons. A map would be located on the interior wall of the garage and measure 26 feet. Other components of the proposal include a sculpture made from forged steel on the east brick wall, costing $23,000, and an exterior installation of forged steel on the west wall, costing $20,800. The map would cost $18,000 to install.

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