Portland meetings on proposed Woodfords Corner art coming next week

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PORTLAND — Public comment on conceptual designs for art in Woodfords Corner will be heard at two meetings next week.

Artist Aaron Stephan will present his preliminary concepts for public art to be installed outside the Oddfellow’s Hall at Forest Avenue and Woodford Street at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16, at the Woodfords Club, 179 Woodford St.

Stephan will also present his preliminary designs at the Public Art Committee meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17, in Portland Public Library Main Room 3, 5 Monument Square.

City councilors in June approved commissioning Stephan to create and install art as part of a wider construction project that will reconfigure Woodfords Corner and Forest Avenue.

Stephan will be paid $20,000 for his creation, which has been anticipated as a lamp post or posts, and $5,000 for the installation. The money comes from surplus Public Art funds, left over from installations of art by sculptor Bernard Langlais at locations throughout the city.

At a community meeting at Woodfords Congregational Church June 1, city Urban Designer Caitlin Cameron said adding public art was always intended to be part of the $2.6 million project. The construction will add traffic lanes to Forest Avenue between Revere Street to beyond Ocean Avenue, and improve a railroad grade crossing.

The project, set to begin next summer with the city paying $640,600, also eliminates a right-turn slip lane from Forest Avenue to eastbound Woodford Street, creating a small plaza in front of the Odd Fellows Hall.

“There is not a lot of room to play with, so we are looking for very vertical elements,” Cameron said of the art.

At the June 1 meetings, some neighborhood residents expressed concern Stephan’s work would not be suited to the area, based in part on his work in Farmington, as well as Lubbock, Texas.

Public Art Commission Chairwoman Lin Lisberger said in June that the committee is eager to install art off the city peninsula, but added no final design decision was made.

“We did not hire Aaron for a specific piece of this, we hired him as a designer,” she said.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Preliminary plans for new public art installed in front of the Odd Fellows Hall at Forest Avenue and Woodford Street will be discussed at meetings Aug. 16 and 17.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.