- Announced earlier this year, the Downtown Erie Sculpture Walk will feature 13 works to be on display through 2023
- Installation of the works will take place through early July
- Two of the artists are from Erie County: Fredy Huaman Mallqui and D.W. Martin
Fredy Huaman Mallqui’s art is about connections.
Sources of inspiration for the Erie sculptor, a native of Peru, include yarn and thread as he explores how people and communities become linked.
Huaman Mallqui’s latest work is “Together,” a 1,000-pound sculpture of three wooden spheres, two made of white pine and the third of catalpa.
When the installation is complete, the two larger spheres will be side by side and the smallest sphere will be on top of them.
The finished “Together” could appear to resemble three huge interconnected balls of yarn sitting on a base 3 feet from the ground.
For Huaman Mallqui, the spheres reflect the threads of human lives as individual strands joined and intertwined with a larger community.
“They are threads,” Huaman Mallqui said. “They are connected. I like connections. I like interactions.”
Huaman Mallqui’s interaction with the public in Erie is about to grow with “Together.”
“Together,” which will be treated with oils to guard against the weather, is to be installed at location to be determined, possibly around Peach and West Sixth streets, Malqui said.
“It was a huge thing for me,” Huaman Mallqui said of having his work chosen for the walk. “I feel proud of my work. I am proud to be an artist based in Erie.”
After receiving 68 applications following a national call, a selection committee that Erie Arts & Culture organized picked the 13 works that will be installed outdoors downtown. The installation area includes spots around State Street north of Perry Square, and the bayfront.
Installation is scheduled to start over the next several weeks with completion in early July, said Patrick Fisher, executive director of Erie Arts & Culture.
The works will be displayed for two years, through August 2023, and during that time will be leased from the artists for a stipend of $2,500 each — money that the EDDC raised. The works also will be available for purchase. Buyers would take possession once the works are uninstalled.
The plan is for the Downtown Erie Sculpture Walk to continue after the initial two-year run, with new works of art taking the place of the original 13. Fisher said he hopes the project brings people downtown and exposes them to new kinds of art from artists from across the country.
The selection process, he said, was meant “not to reflect one individual’s taste, but to be a collaborative project.”
Wide range of artists
Two of the 13 artists — Huaman Mallqui and D.W. Martin, an art professor at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania — are from Erie County, and they are among the five artists from Pennsylvania. The other artists are from cities across the United States, including Waterloo, Iowa; Cape Girardeau and Kansas City, Mo., and Los Angeles.
The sculptures are composed of different materials and designs. One, called “Word on the Street,” is made out of a street sign. Others are more abstract, including Huaman Mallqui’s “Together” and Martin’s “Affable.” The latter features an object painted red, pink and blue resting on a chair.
“We don’t expect every piece to be someone’s favorite,” Fisher said. “But we hope they can have an appreciation of all the forms art can take.”
The project is separate from the permanent sculptural gateway to downtown, called Points of Reference, that is to be installed this summer at Third and State streets. The Downtown Erie Partnership is leading that initiative.
Art as change agent:Interview with Patrick Fisher
Opinion:Erie’s public art push
The Sculpture Walk and the the other sculpture project are part of the overall push to promote public art in Erie, particularly downtown. Erie Arts & Culture has also helped develop outdoor murals and led a project in late 2020 that enhanced 24 utility boxes in the city of Erie with bright, colorful artwork that celebrates Erie’s history, landmarks and diversity.
“It is all part of our collective effort to improve the visual landscape of the urban core,” Fisher said.
The CEO of the EDDC, John Persinger, said his organization has been thrilled with how the Downtown Erie Sculpture Walk has unfolded. He praised the community support and the assistance of local firms Building Systems Inc., which is handling installation work, including the pouring of concrete pads for the bases of the sculptures, and the Team Hardinger transportation company, which is getting the sculptures to Erie and downtown.
Downtown expansion:Can 2 multimillion-dollar projects feed downtown Erie’s food desert?
“From our perspective, it has all gone very seamlessly,” Persinger said. “It is going to be a great addition to downtown this summer.”
The 13 pieces in the Downtown Erie Sculpture Walk will be placed on private and public property. All the artworks will be visible to the public.
Erie Arts & Culture required that the sculptures be made of durable materials to withstand the weather. The works are of different sizes.
According to Erie Arts & Culture and the artists, the location and names of the works are:
- Possibly around West Sixth and Peach streets — “Together,” by Fredy Huaman Mallqui, Erie
- The public walkway at the top of the Sassafras Street exit off the Bayfront Parkway — “Affable,” by D.W. Martin, Edinboro
- City Hall — “Phoenix,” by Adam Garey, Yardley, Bucks County
- Erie County Convention Center — “Depth of Form,” Jacob Burmood, Kansas City, Missouri
- Gannon University’s Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel — “Zig Zag Boogie Woogie,” by Bill Wood, Edinburg, Virginia
- 100 State St. — “Threshold,” by Gregory Johnson, Forsyth County, Georgia
- Blasco Library — “Twist,” by Brian Peters, Pittsburgh
- Gannon University’s Recreation and Wellness Center — “Pose,” by Tim Adams, Webster City, Iowa
- Peach Street urban rain garden, on the west side of City Hall — “Tricky Situation,” by Matt Miller, Cape Girardeau, Missouri
- Erie Insurance Arena — “Word on the Street,” by Scott Froschauer, Los Angeles
- Erie Art Museum — “Flat Curves,” by Jennifer Rubin Garey, Yardley, Bucks County; she and Adam Garey are married.
- Dobbins Landing — “Spindrift,” by Dan Perry, Waterloo, Iowa
- Erie Insurance — “Big Sky,” by Nathan Pierce, Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Editor’s note: The artworks in the Downtown Erie Sculpture document (above) are shown in this preliminary list provided by Erie Arts & Culture. Please refer to this Erie Times-News article for updated information on the artists and where their works will be located in Erie. Artist Steve Buduo, who is featured in this document, is no longer participating in the walk.
Ready to be seen
The location for D.W. Martin’s work — the public walkway on the bluffs above the Bayfront Parkway — is an ideal fit, he said. The bright colors in his piece, “Affable,”, which he describes as “life-sized” at 69 inches by 30 inches by 25 inches, will be visible from points across the bayfront and along the Bayfront Parkway. The sculpture is made of painted fabricated steel and other materials.
“Hopefully, they are going to see it from afar and say, ‘What is that? I am going to have to check it out,'” said Martin, a professor of fine arts and sculpture, including 3D design, at Edinboro University.
He said he is pleased to be part of the Downtown Erie Sculpture Walk.
“I am glad to be able to represent Erie,” he said.
Martin, 59, said ambiguity is a key element in his works. He said he wants each viewer to have a different take on “Affable” and how the shape he has created interacts with the aluminum chair on which the shape sits.
“This particular sculpture is the investigation of coupling the human figure with an inanimate object,” according to Martin’s description for the Downtown Erie Sculpture Walk.
“It is my intention to use figurative form in relationship to the chair, and create a vocabulary between the two, while also hoping to develop a visual conversation with my audience by developing a surface that emits a visual noise using line, color and the physical mark.”
In an interview, Martin said of “Affable”: “I hope to present something that no one has seen before, something that is new, that will stop them and engage them: Is that a figure or not a figure?”
Bringing people ‘Together’
Fredy Huaman Mallqui also aims to engage the viewer. He welcomes different interpretations of his art, starting with his idea that sculptures like “Together” are meant to convey the interaction between people, communities and different cultures.
“We are connected with something in particular,” he said. “What I am looking for with this piece is to create dialogue and tell a story.”
“Together” grew out of what Huaman Mallqui calls his ongoing Puchka Project, which refers to the word for a spindle in the Qechua language of his native Peru. Huaman Mallqui uses a spindle with thread to explain his ideas.
“They spin together, the threads of the human condition,” he said.
Huaman Mallqui, 41, said he developed the Puchka Project to use his art to explore his experience of growing up in Peru, in the Andes; learning woodworking starting when he was 9 years old; and moving to Erie in 2012 to be with his wife, whom he met she was in Peru.
More changes downtown:‘So much potential’: Erie Art Museum’s new leader aims to reopen, collaborate, engage
The Puchka Project, he said, explores how he had “to translate my art into a different cultural language” when he arrived in the United States. He said the project delves into “the thread of my own life, the threads of others, how they are connected.”
Huaman Mallqui’s work has been recognized internationally, and he considers “Together” as adding to his effort to leave an artistic legacy in Erie and elsewhere.
“It is pretty important to bring different ideas, inspiration to the future generation of artists,” he said.
If Erie can come together over his sculpture and the other 12 artworks in the Downtown Erie Sculpture Walk, Huaman Mallqui said he will be happy.
The connection between the community and “Together,” he said, will commence as soon as it leaves his house and is put in place in downtown Erie.
Huaman Mallqui said he has his own interpretation of what “Together” represents. But he said that is just one interpretation.
“My piece ends when I install it,” Huaman Mallqui said. “Then it shifts to the public, the people.”