Peoria unveils latest public art installation

Deer Village Park houses Barrel Cactus

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The Peoria Arts Commission on March 18 unveiled its newest public art sculpture, Barrel Cactus, created by artist Gordon Huether, at Deer Village Park, 21217 N. 88th Lane, Peoria.

“Barrel Cactus is a beautiful signature piece of art that can be enjoyed by visitors to Deer Village Park, and by those who pass by on Lake Pleasant Parkway every day,” Peoria Arts and Events Manager Marylou Stephens stated in a news release. “All city of Peoria residents can be inspired by the art in our public spaces.”

After a city of Peoria Arts Commission selection process, Gordon Huether was chosen in September 2017 to create a new public art piece. His installation, Barrel Cactus, is inspired by the state’s desert landscape, and resembles the barrel cacti found in the southwest. It is made of three Echinocactus shapes that are 10 feet tall, 6 feet tall, and 4 feet tall, each with a polished stainless steel pipe in the center from which six fins of colorful dichroic glass project. Each dichroic glass fin is curved, creating negative spaces within the structural forms of each sculpture, allowing for views both through and around the objects.

The use of dichroic glass brings multi-colored reflective properties to this installation. Light transmitted through the dichroic glass surface of the panels will appear to be one color and light reflected from it will appear as a complementary color. This creates a dynamic, colorful installation that can be viewed from all angles at Deer Village Park.

“I am especially inspired by the desert landscape and the ability of certain kids of plants to adapt to the almost waterless conditions,” Mr. Huether stated. “Designing and creating this installation for Peoria was truly a joy for me.”

In 1989, the Napa, California-based Mr. Huether was awarded his first public art commission for the University of Alaska Geophysical Institute, according to his website at www.gordonhuether.com. Subsequent projects have included art installations for private corporations, airports, transportation centers, parking garages, hotels, universities, hospitals, recreation centers, civic buildings, libraries, and museums.

His work has been exhibited at museums and galleries, and collected across the U.S., in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and New York. He has received more than 70 public art commissions and more than 175 private commissions.

Funding for Peoria’s art projects comes from the city’s capital improvement projects (streets, parks, fire stations, libraries, etc.) which contribute 1 percent of the total cost of the projects into a dedicated arts fund. The arts fund is then used for acquiring public art, such as Mr. Huether’s Barrel Cactus.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic and in accordance with the CDC’s guidance on large in-person events, the “Barrel Cactus Dedication Event,” previously scheduled for March 17, was postponed until further notice. Check the Peoria Arts Commission website for future updates regarding this event.

The 11-acre Deer Village Park features picnic ramadas, restrooms, barbecue grills, lighted tennis courts, lighted basketball courts, and a shaded playground. Park hours are 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. For park or facility reservations, call the Community Services Department at 623-773-7137.

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