Merriam’s next piece of public art will be three reflective ‘seedlings’ at Merriam Marketplace

A model of the proposed public art project for the Merriam Marketplace was shown to the city council Monday night.
A model of the proposed public art project for the Merriam Marketplace was shown to the city council Monday night.

Chicago has “The Bean” and soon Merriam will have “Planting the Seeds.”

The next piece of Merriam place-making art was approved by the Merriam City Council Monday night. The new public art project will be placed at the Merriam Marketplace and consist of three pieces of highly polished stainless steel that are “playing off the notion of a seed that is germinating,” according to the city’s public art consultant James Martin.

The three pieces will be round spheres about 7-feet high with a sprout at the top which reaches 21-feet high. The base spheres will be highly reflective much like the surface of “Cloud Gate” (the real name for “The Bean”) which has become the number one tourist attraction in Chicago. Martin predicted the sculpture will attract a lot of attention in Merriam and said it would be quite effective at night with lights coming up from the ground.

Martin, a Merriam resident who is an art consultant, curator and educator, said the final proposals were taken from a starting pool of 125 qualified artists. Three finalists were invited to make their pitch to the arts committee last month.

“I was very excited to see this,” Martin said. “The committee was unanimous.”

“I think this is really a strong piece of place-making art,” said City Administrator Phil Lammers.

Christopher Weed Sculpture from Colorado is the selected proposal. Weed has a number of public art projects placed around Colorado. Martin said Weed is a veteran and took to heart the Flags 4 Freedom event at the Marketplace along with the auto show that is held there each year.

The city has planned five pieces of place-making art at $100,000 each year over the five years. The first completed piece was dedicated last week at the corner of Johnson and Merriam Drives.

That piece, Martin said, reflected the history of Merriam. The new work will stand independently but relate to the Marketplace, Martin said.

Council members asked several practical questions about maintenance and placement of the pieces. Lammers said discussions about footings and how the grass around the pieces will be handled are still under way. The distance between each of the pieces also has not been determined yet.

The artist's rendering of the seedlings sitting at the Merriam Marketplace.
The artist’s rendering of the seedlings sitting at the Merriam Marketplace.