The City of Monroe has set a March 30 deadline for a call for artists wanting to create the next downtown sculpture.

Installing outdoor art is part of a community-wide approach to revitalizing the historic corridor, which began in 2014. The “Wagner Swifts” piece was the first, celebrated at the corner of Main and Lewis streets at the start of 2017.

“One of the things that I’ve always noticed about this community is that we like to come out for things that really represent what our community is all about, and that’s really what the swifts represent for us,” said Monroe Arts Council president Lise Sexton at the event last January. “They’re poetry in motion, they’re beauty in nature, and they represent some key tenants of this community.”

The arts council had a hand in the process, with members serving on the selection committee that tapped Sultan artist Kevin Pettelle’s concept. He received a $10,000 City of Monroe Arts Grant to cover material costs and labor. The artist for the next sculpture project will receive the same compensation.

The Vaux Swifts are the city’s official bird. Pettelle said during last year’s annual Swift Night Out event in September that he didn’t realize how interesting the species was until he started doing research for his sculpture in 2016.

It was the ninth time the event has been held at the Wagner Elementary School chimney, where up to 25,000 Vaux’s Swifts have been found to roost in one night during their annual trek from Canada to Central America. It is one of the most important stops on their annual journey south.

Community partnerships have played a significant role in the city’s work. One such collaboration blossomed after Pettelle’s artwork was installed.

He and Downtown Monroe Association executive director Joie Worthen initiated a new campaign this fall to fund more of the hand-sized stainless steel swifts. Many will be added to the existing piece. A few dozen will be set around downtown as part of a historic education walk, with the name of an important figure engraved on each, and others the public can take home. 

The site of the next sculpture will be the public sidewalk along Main Street, between Blakely Street and Ferry Avenue, according to the city. It will go somewhere inside the newly renovated downtown plaza area.

The city asks that applicants include a plan for public safety and addressing potential vandalism to the sculpture; graffiti is mentioned specifically.

“The proposal should express a connection to the City of Monroe, the character of the specific display location, and reflect the City’s diversity,” according to a city news release.

The deadline for entries is 4 p.m. Friday, March 30. The approved artist will be notified by Friday, May 4. The sculpture needs to be installed no later than Dec. 21. More information can be found here. To reach the DMA regarding the swifts replicas, contact Worthen at 425-293-2673.