Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ketchum acquiring artistic manhole lids

Designs reflect city’s history


    By late December, downtown Ketchum should have more aesthetic manhole covers.
During a City Council meeting Monday, City Administrator Gary Marks revealed a plan to replace old manhole covers with ones with artistic designs that have defined the city’s history.
“We solicited artists from the community seeking how we could display themes of community,” Marks said. “They came up with six different designs for skiing, arts, shepherding, railroads, our indigenous wildlife and mining. All of these things have had a huge impact on shaping Ketchum into what it is today.”
    The idea for decorative manhole lids was inspired by a discussion with Seattle-based public artist and urban planner Jack Mackie during a Ketchum Arts Commission meeting in May.
In the beginning of his presentation Monday, Marks spoke about Ketchum’s 50th anniversary commemorative coin program, which was supposed to take place in October 2011 but never materialized. Seven coin designs were produced, but after selections were made through a blind jury, the project had to be abandoned due to a lack of sponsors. However, those designs helped spawn the new manhole lid designs.
    A PowerPoint presentation by the Arts Commission on Monday contrasted artistic and creative manhole lids in Japan to the dull lids in Ketchum.
    “These would be great manhole covers, one great aspect of public art,” Arts Commission Chair Claudia McCain said. “Manholes are not something very exciting, but we can make them more interesting, attractive and engaging. It seems like a perfect marriage of using this artwork and finding a way to utilize the talents of these individuals. It will further our public commitment to art through the city.”
    The commission selected the skiing and railroad manhole lids to be designed first. There have been samples produced with revised samples currently in production. The revised samples are set to be shipped this week, with final production taking about six weeks. For the first two covers, the unveiling is anticipated to take place in mid- to late December.
Noah Bowen designed the railroad lid, titled “Pushing Dawn.” The skiing lid was designed by Denise DeCoster and is titled “Downhill Sunrise.”
    After the first two covers are produced, the sheepherding and arts designs will be produced next. Unveiling for those samples is anticipated for January.
    The first two manhole lids are set to be placed in the community core, with 22 additional lids there and elsewhere in the town to come later. A placement map of lids also calls for some to be kept in storage for replacement as necessary.
    Each pattern design costs $3,000 and each manhole cover will cost $115. The first two patterns and 20 lids per design will cost $11,814.
Eric Avissar: eavissar@mtexpress.com




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