Umbrellas fly on Main Street

Colorful, whimsical new public sculpture delights passers-by

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor

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photoPeople strolling Sunday on Vancouver’s Main Street admired and puzzled over the new public sculpture “Flying Umbrellas” at the northwest corner of Evergreen Boulevard and Main Street. It was created by Vancouver artists Jennifer Corio and Dave Frei.
photoVancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, from left, and artists Jennifer Corio and Dave Frei welcomed a new piece of public art Friday evening during First Friday.

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photoA new piece of public art, "Flying Umbrellas," was unveiled Friday on the corner of Evergreen Boulevard and Main Street in Vancouver.

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“Flying Umbrellas” looked daring and dazzling in the brilliant Sunday sun.

The sculpture had been dedicated Friday night before more than 200 people at the northwest corner of Evergreen Boulevard and Main Street.

Gazing at the artwork Sunday afternoon, Alyson Peter, 22, of Battle Ground said, “I think it’s very fitting because it rains so much. … It kind of fits with the artwork in the new library (just two blocks away).”

“It’s interesting because it gives the illusion that it’s falling over, but it’s not. I think it’s pretty,” said her friend Roxy Gregg, 24, of Tualatin, Ore. “I think it will be cool when it rains to see how the rain falls off it.”

Where will that rain go?

“It’s been the question of the hour,” said artist Jennifer Corio, who built the commissioned work with her husband, Dave Frei. They own Cobalt Designworks a few blocks away, at McLoughlin Boulevard and C Street. “I think a lot of people like to find out about artists’ process.”

The artists explained that the top upside-down umbrella has a drain that goes into the shaft of the next two umbrellas and into the umbrella stand. It then is sent through a tube into the concrete base and is dispersed into the planted area.

Main Street strollers Peter and Gregg were on Main Street Sunday with Vancouver’s Morgan Joe, 24, evaluating the sculpture.

“The umbrella is Vancouver’s mascot,” Joe said, and, “Lime green is my favorite color.”

That’s psycho lime green, artist Frei noted. And the other two colors are lollypop red and lollypop purple.

And it’s not just paint.

Frei explained that the aluminum umbrellas have a sanding pattern in them. A translucent powder coating is applied and then a clear powder coat finishes the work. The handles and struts are of stainless steel and the stand is made of mild steel.

“People were very enthusiastic,” Corio said of the Friday unveiling. “I think a lot of people love the piece. Several people said it was the kind of art they envisioned downtown.

“I feel really grateful to Vancouver Downtown Association and their vision for bringing art into the downtown and for the opportunity for us to be a part of that,” Corio said.

The fee for the work was $12,500. The project was a joint effort of the city of Vancouver and the downtown association, which accepted artists’ bids.

The couple have big public outdoor sculptures in Bremerton; Puyallup; Longview; Lake Oswego, Ore.; Palm Desert, Calif.; and Castlegar, B.C.

Will it endure?

“We made sure we had a structurally sound piece,” Frei said. “Jennifer’s pieces tend to convey a feeling of movement and dynamics.”

He added, “We do like bright colors.” He said the downtown association seemed to prefer art with a whimsical feel.

Artist Daniel Wickwire said he was happy the sculpture was unveiled at a First Friday event. He said downtown galleries were busy that evening.

“To me, it was the best of Vancouver for everybody to come together,” said Wickwire, who is a member of Gallery 360. He is a photographer who mostly works in black and white and muted colors.

“To have the mayor there, it was pretty cool,” he said.

“Everybody I’ve talked to just loves it,” he said of “Flying Umbrellas.” “Very fitting for the weather we have here in Vancouver.”

The artists’ studio is in Uptown Village and Corio said, “A lot of people do stop by. We love visitors.”