Olympia Arts Commission: 2 sculpture pieces win People's Choice Award

Tie - first time in contest history


'Salmon Romance' by Pat McVay and 'Underwater Disagreement' by Eileen Lagasse are the 2022 Percival Plinth People's Choice winners, Arts Commission chair Jim Burlingame announced at the Olympia City Council meeting last night.

Burlingame said the tie was a  first in the Percival Plinth Project's 12- year history, getting 80 votes each from community members during the voting, which took place in July.

Arts Program specialist Angel Nava said the Percival Landing display included18 sculptures from regional artists..

The People's Choice Award selects a sculpture that the city will buy and make a permanent exhibit by the city based on a public vote.

The winners will be displayed at the City Hall for a year before being reinstalled at another location.

For the People's Choice Award 2022, Nava said 522 ballots were cast, a 33% increase from 2021. "It is the highest turnout since introducing the vote in Engage Olympia with authenticated registration."

How the tie was resolved

Burlingame said the arts commissioners deliberated ways to resolve the tie, including a revote among the two winners and a recommendation to the council with just one sculpture.

"However, a staff noted there were sufficient funds in the municipal art funds to purchase both pieces for $15,523," Burlingame said.

Without a process for resolving the situation with two winners, Burlingame said the commissioners supported the results of the public vote by recommending the purchase of both sculptures.

Burlingame said the Arts Commission plans to develop a process for addressing future ties before installing the next Percival Plinth Project.

Burlingame presented the two People's Choice awardees to the city council, and council members approved purchasing both sculpture pieces.

Public reaction to 'Salmon Romance'

"It is fitting for our community and its history with the salmon, but also, it is dynamic and gives a sense of motion, history, and interconnectedness."

"Incredible height and presence – every angle was striking. The silver wash made the fish look iridescent – very cool."

"Returning salmon is an important piece of our ancestral tribal culture and continues to be celebrated today. Salmon is life."

What voters say on 'Underwater Disagreement'

"I think it is a very intricate and clever piece. The use of recycled material is very intriguing and creative. There is a lot of effort put into the sculpture, and it showcases the artistic aspect of Olympia in an incredible way,” said one of those who voted on the art.

Another wrote, "The piece reminds me of the things we don't see but know are there. When you see this sculpture by the bay, you are reminded that there is more beneath the surface of your view, which is kind of a metaphor. Also, the piece is just visually interesting!"

And another wrote, ”I like everything about this piece. The artist did a great job capturing an undersea battle, and I look forward to seeing more of her work!"


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