‘Sweet bronze dog’ is first step in walking tour effort

Piece created by Georgia Gerber will be unveiled in downtown Camas April 30

The bronze springer spaniel sculpture, currently affectionately referred to as the "sweet bronze dog," needs an official name. The public is invited to help select it.

The community can vote on five names including Cami, Charlie, Clark, Millie and Lily at http://downtowncamas.com/vote-for-our-downtown-dogs-name. The statue will be placed in front of the Liberty Theatre on Northeast Fourth Avenue.

The winning name and the statue will be unveiled during a reception for the artist, Georgia Gerber, Thursday, April 30. The event will begin with light appetizers at Nuestra Mesa, 228 N.E. Fourth Ave., at 5 p.m., followed by the ceremony at 6 p.m.

The bronze springer spaniel sculpture, currently affectionately referred to as the “sweet bronze dog,” needs an official name. The public is invited to help select it.

The community can vote on five names including Cami, Charlie, Clark, Millie and Lily at http://downtowncamas.com/vote-for-our-downtown-dogs-name. The statue will be placed in front of the Liberty Theatre on Northeast Fourth Avenue.

The winning name and the statue will be unveiled during a reception for the artist, Georgia Gerber, Thursday, April 30. The event will begin with light appetizers at Nuestra Mesa, 228 N.E. Fourth Ave., at 5 p.m., followed by the ceremony at 6 p.m.

Pappy, Millie, Farrell, Camie, Liberty, Lily and Sir Isaac Ruprecht Fluffernutter III (or “Bob” for short).

These are just some of the unique names that have been suggested on the Downtown Camas Association’s Facebook page, for the artwork that will be arriving later this month. The bronze piece — a 27-inch tall, 22-inch wide springer spaniel — will be placed in the courtyard in front of the Liberty Theatre on Northeast Fourth Avenue.

The $7,915 cost is being funded by the DCA as the seed to establish a bronze art tour.

“Our intention is art appreciation, but also to be an interactive thing for families and to bring people to downtown,” said DCA Executive Director Carrie Schulstad. “We wanted pieces kids could identify with, that they could sit on, and that they could hug on and love and take pictures with.”

The piece was created by Washington artist Georgia Gerber, whose extensive resume of work includes “Rachel the Market Pig” at Pike Place Market in Seattle, “Baby Elephant” at the Oregon Zoo in Portland and the 25 “Oregon Wildlife” statues situated in and around Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland.

Gerber, who lives on rural Whidbey Island, has been a professional sculptor and bronze casting artist since 1979. She primarily works with life-size animal and human figures.

According to her website, “A career emphasis has been the creation of accessible public artwork that encourages viewer interaction.”

That is exactly the kind of scene DCA leaders are hoping to create by bringing the dog statue, and other bronze sculptures to downtown Camas.

“We are very, very excited about the possibilities,” Schulstad said. “One of the things these kinds of tours do is (gives people a reason to) come downtown even if the stores are closed. You can enjoy the town, even if it is a Sunday morning when the only thing that really is open is the church. You can wander around and find something to do.”

Gerber’s piece will be the third public art bronze to be placed in the downtown area.

The first was a little girl holding a book, installed in June 2002, which sits on a bench next to the fountain located at Northeast Fourth Avenue and Cedar Street. The statue was originally purchased by the organization then known as the Camas Downtown Association, through a $1,000 grant from the United Camas Association of Neighborhoods. Uta Zuendel, a longtime Camas resident and downtown revitalization supporter, bought it from a nursery in Woodburn, Ore., as a pilot project for public art in Camas.

There is also a goose, located in the outdoor courtyard at the Camas Public Library at Northeast Fourth Avenue and Franklin Street. Created by Camas-based artist Mike Smith, it was installed in May 2003 when the newly renovated facility opened to the public.

“We want to be able to have the whole town connected and that is one way we can do it — through an art walk,” Schulstad said.

During the next two years she hopes at least three more pieces by Gerber will be added to the tour, as money is available. Donations are currently being accepted. Citizens will have the opportunity to vote later in the spring on which sculptures they would like to see become part of the downtown landscape.

“What we are also hoping will happen is people love them and want to contribute funding,” Schulstad said. “Then, people will feel like they were part of it.”

Another element of the tour will be the placement of approximately eight small bronze birds, created by Gerber, around downtown.

“They will be hidden throughout town and people will have to find them. It’s going to be like a little bird hunt,” Schulstad said. “We want to be able to spread them out. There will be one on each block all of the way from the first block of town (at Adams Street), up to the library.”

Schulstad, who previously owned a business in downtown Camas, said discussions about a bronze art tour have been going on for at least eight years.

“We wanted to do a tour, we didn’t just want to have one piece,” she said. “We had to grow to the point where we had the mechanisms to do that.”

Last year, the DCA board decided the time was right.

“We wanted to have a series of bronzes in downtown — something cohesive,” explained Caroline Mercury, DCA Board president.

Public art is one of the tenets of the Washington State Main Street program, of which downtown Camas has been a part of for several years. Mercury envisions the bronze walking tour becoming a defining feature of the district, along with elements such as the white lights, tree canopy and hanging flower baskets that already exist.

“I think it’s another one of those things that’s a draw visually,” she said. “It supports the fact that your city is invested in the community and does things with just the community in mind. Things that are there to enhance the experience of being in downtown Camas.”

Please review our community guidelines