A Wave Hits Tollefson Plaza

Barely two months ago, Alexander Keyes graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sculpture. Fresh out of the gate, he was awarded a commission from Spaceworks Tacoma for an installation in Tollefson Plaza, at S. 17th & Pacific Ave. The piece, a 12′ x 6′ x 6′ outdoor sculpture called Wave, was installed Monday.

Wave, by Alexander Keyes

Constructed from about eighty 4′ wooden beams connected by metal brackets, Wave resembles a larger-than-life, bright blue erector set whose pieces are arranged in a wave-like motion that ascends the plaza’s steps. Keyes’ intention for the sculpture was to playfully energize one of downtown’s most central (it faces the Tacoma Art Museum across Pacific Ave.), yet oddly overlooked, open spaces. The artist is excited by the potential of such sites: “People get so caught up in their day to day routine, that they become blind to the world around them. This is exactly what I saw in Tollefson. I love this big, empty space in the middle of our fairly dense downtown. There is never anybody there, though….[Spaceworks] provides an opportunity for art to inhabit the space and draw people in.”

Keyes believes that by “creating a spectacle of big, brightly colored objects,” he can “slow people’s routines down without ticking them off.” Call it a positive disruption in the day-to-day flow. “My greatest hope is to connect with each person’s mischievous inner child,” he says. Is his strategy working?

Already, the bright blue tsunami is stopping people in their tracks.

In October, Keyes’ art will be featured in the International Sculpture Center’s Student Award Show at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ. Wave, Tollefson Plaza, S. 17th & Pacific Ave., through Sept. 14, 2010; www.alexanderkeyes.weebly.com

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