Whidbey artist making Everett plaza a lasting legacy

Whidbey Island artist Linda Beaumont likes to make her public artwork sing.

Her current installation, still under construction in downtown Everett, will sparkle, spit fire and light, and occasionally emit fog.

Beaumont and a design team of engineers, fabricators, architects and landscapers are in the process of putting together the mosaic wall, fountain and garden area that will transform into Everett Plaza.

The plaza will be a place that beckons; a downtown green space of intimacy and drama; a stage among the stages.

The plaza is being built between the Everett Performing Arts Center and Village Theatre’s Second Stage kids’ theater on Wetmore Avenue.

“All the world’s a stage is used way too much, but this really embraces that idea,” Beaumont said. “If this isn’t that, what is?”

On a recent tour of the site, it was clear that Beaumont felt an overwhelming responsibility to the citizens of Everett to create a public space of everlasting beauty as well as a legacy for future generations.

“It’s not only the responsibility to make a space that is inviting to kids, but a center for children as they grow up and live in this town.”

Beaumont is no stranger to creating large-scale public art that is made to endure for generations and that infuses a bit of joy into our local courthouses, transit stations and public buildings in Seattle and Bellevue.

Her works can be seen locally as well, in Mukilteo where “As Above So Below” — a sculpture of earth canoes made of cast concrete and terrazzo — was installed at the Sound Transit station in 2009.

Beaumont’s “As Above So Below” is an example of how her large-scale work joins in concert the cold hard themes of concrete and glass with sensual stones and warm tones that create a private space within a public place.

At the Everett Plaza Project, Beaumont blends light and water and the illusion of fire. The entire plaza involves serpentine concrete steps, a large, undulating mosaic wall or “moon gate” that acts as a backdrop to a pedestrian alley and also frames the area into seating amphitheater.

Beaumont describes a large fountain on the north part of the plaza this way:

“A large lens-shaped terrazzo pool is filled with water, the form is tipped, with water spilling off the edge, from a bronze weir, and into a lower pool, also of terrazzo. There is a curved entry walkway along the edge of this lower pool and waterfall.”

Inside the bowl are what Beaumont calls magic rocks lit from within, along with handmade larger rocks embedded with jewels.

This water feature will bring the feeling of fire within water like a cauldron.

The fountain may indeed be one of the most fantastic features of the plaza, if not all of downtown Everett. And it’s constructed so that everyone can get right up to it. “It’s lovely, never uncomfortable. There’s never an ‘I can’t get there from here’ sort of feeling,” the artist said.

The fountain can be completely lit with a geyser agitator, and fog can be added as well.

“We’ve got a license to be quite dramatic,” Beaumont said. “It’s quite an opportunity to make it lots of colors: deep blue and very moody, or flickering oranges and reds.”

Other dramatic touches to the plaza include the tall steps that can become a stage for choirs or performances. The curved wall creates a privacy to the site and is coated with mosaic, broken mirrors and honey onyx in that amber color that Beaumont can’t resist.

“The amber gives the warmth and the beauty that is from the Earth,” Beaumont said.

At one point, the wall will be topped with arching vines.

The site will be landscaped with a framing of ginkgo trees, evergreen magnolias and plantings that bring joy and scent throughout the year.

“It’s so luscious to me, when all kinds of people tiptoe in and they ask, ‘What are you doing?’”

Beaumont is a thin, wiry woman who speaks passionately about her project, sometimes revealing insights about herself as she gets a bit carried away.

“I’m devoting myself to the circle; there it is again,” Beaumont stopped and pointed to the moon gate, which will be that prominent go-to point from the alley coming off Colby. It’s a focal point for the plaza and for Beaumont.

“There’s something about me grounding myself to that form that is, I don’t know if it’s finding order in my life, but it feels really good to find a circle here rather than some oddball kind of shape. I like the classicness of it.”

With the flowing fountain, the undulating wall and the sparkling rocks, Beaumont is creating a place where energy really flows.

It’s already pulsating though not yet done.

“Art takes time. I’m going to be here awhile,” Beaumont said. “But in the meantime I’m hoping to inform people how it is to actually make a public place. Let’s not just rush this thing.”

Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; tgoffredo@heraldnet.com.

Make your mark

You can add your creative touch and a family heirloom to the mosaic wall going up at Everett plaza.

Artist Linda Beaumont is leading a free mosaic workshop for the community from 2 to 5 p.m. Dec. 27 in the Anderson Room at the Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett. The event is suitable for all ages, 8 years old and older.

Materials will be provided to build your mosaic including colored glass or mirror pieces.

You are also welcome to bring a special memento or family treasure to place in your mosaic. Objects can include broken plates, a favorite teacup or metal keepsake, a string of pearls, an old ring, a button, old jewelry and brooches and other small treasures. Don’t bring perishable materials such as paper, plastic, fabric or cloth.

For more information, call Carol Thomas at the city of Everett at 425 257-7101.

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