What is eighteen feet tall and weighs over 5,000 pounds?
The answer: Merrillee Moore’s stainless steel sculpture “Aerie.” Born and raised in the Northwest, Moore sees the empty nest as a welcoming presence and a “symbol of home.” As people pass by she hopes it influences their “perspectives of Anacortes and the Pacific Northwest.” The long anticipated eagle’s nest was installed in the Commercial Avenue roundabout on January 31st, 2015 and dedicated on February 13th, 2015.
In 2010, Moore’s design was chosen by the Anacortes Arts Commission out of thirty proposals. That same year Anacortes City Council approved it for the centerpiece of the Commercial Avenue roundabout. Moore began the process of creating the sculpture in 2013, when installation requirements for the Department of Transportation were met. Moore, well known for her molten glass sculptures which embody fluidity and movement, often uses glass and stainless steel as her mediums of choice and says she strives to highlight the optics and depth of the medium. “Aeire,” the largest sculpture Moore has created, is a prime example of an artist bringing to life an elegant and dimensional visual dance.
Sculptures are not new to the Anacortes landscape. From 2010 to 2014 “Arts on the Avenue” dotted corners and parks along Commercial Avenue. The newest permanent addition from this collection, purchased by the Anacortes Arts Festival, is “East Meets Northwest” by Stephen Rock. It’s shaped like a Chinese character using large reclaimed wooden paint brushes. Positioned on the busy corner of 18th St. and Commercial Avenue, its center sign – forged by local master blacksmith Paul Thorne – is an eye catcher. A few other pieces of the collection remain. In front of How It Works, Peregrine O’Gormley’s bronze sculpture “How Much Longer?” depicts a woman bent backward balancing the world in her hands.
All over Fidalgo Island sculptures are found in parks, trails and community gathering spots. At Cap Sante Marina, Gerard Tsutukawa’s striking orca fin “Annie Curtis” rises to touch the sky. Visit Kiwanis Park for Leo Osborne’s soaring eagle “Windsong” glides next to Guemes Channel. Seafarers Memorial Park features Deborah Copenhaver’s “Lady of the Sea,” who holds a lantern to light the way for those that work and play in the sea. Philip McCracken’s stoic “Mountain Guardian” watches over visitors to Mt. Erie’s summit, and at the Anacortes Post Office “The Bird Family” takes in the daily activity of historic downtown. “Ska-atl” the otter, a personal favorite, by Tracy Powell readies to flip and play with passersby’s on the Tommy Thompson trail.
No matter where you wander you’re bound to find sculptural treasures. “Aerie,” positioned in the Commercial Avenue roundabout, will be the first sculpture onlookers clamp their eyes on. With its strong lines and elegant curves this magnificent structure will add a vibrant visual architecture to the coastal landscape and summon a moment of reflection about the Pacific Northwest.
originally written January 21st, 2015 by Lara Dunning, updated April 2018