A new piece of public art could be on display at Riverfront Park as early as this summer

Beaver was one of four finalists for the new Riverfront Park artwork.

SPOKANE, Wash. – A new piece of public art by a Washington artist may soon be settling in Riverfront Park.

“Beaver” (working title) was selected by the Joint Art Committee from a pool of four finalists. A call went out earlier this year for artists to submit their designs for a new piece of public art. Artists from Washington, Idaho and Oregon were invited to create an interactive work that continues the tradition established by current art in the park, such as the Big Red Wagon and Garbage Goat.

Twenty-six artists submitted their creations, but Saya Moriyasuwas JAC’s preferred design. Moriyasu is based in Seattle, but spends half the year at her studio in Soap Lake.

The bronze sculpture is based on Moriyasu’s story of a beaver named Saka’am, the Salish word for moon, who had creative ideas and made a rainbow-colored hat to carry. The room is proposed to be a seating area that would allow visitors to sit on the beaver’s tail and swing around in a full circle.

Melissa Huggins, executive director of Spokane Arts, said the JAC liked the artwork because it’s colorful, whimsical and because the beavers still live in the park. Huggins said the JAC is waiting to hear if the Spokane Tribe will partner with them on the project and once that is decided, a story, text for the base of the sculpture and the name will be finalized.

A site for the piece has not been decided. Spokane Department of Arts and Parks staff members are narrowing down a list of possible sites.

The JAC now recommends the design moving forward. It will be presented to the Park Board’s Waterfront Park Committee and, if it accepts the recommendation, it will be put to a vote at the next Park Board meeting.

If the piece is selected, it could be on display in the park as early as August this year.

Here are the four project finalists: