Oak Harbor to get Kraken

A noted Oregon artist will be releasing the Kraken in downtown Oak Harbor, possibly by the end of summer.

The city’s arts commission and staff worked out an agreement with metal sculptor Bill Hunt to build a copper-and-steel sea monster attacking the Nautilus submarine.

If the City Council agrees, the sculpture will be placed at the intersection of Pioneer Way and City Beach Street.

Cac Kamak, senior planner, said the commissioners wanted the sculpture to be unique and to have a big effect. He said they will get their wishes on both counts.

“They wanted a meaningful piece that will draw people downtown,” he said. “They wanted something a little outside of the box.”

It’s going to be big. Hunt said the work, estimated to cost $33,000, will stand about eight feet tall and will be about eight feet in diameter, so it will be hard to miss.

But the truly exceptional thing about the sculpture will be the tentacles. Kamak explained that the Kraken’s tentacles will appear to travel underneath the pavement and protrude on the other side of the street, wrapping around a pole for the walk signal.

“It’s going to be an illusion,” Hunt said. “You’ll have to use your imagination.”

Kamak said the City Council has the option of adding additional tentacles rising out of the pavement in other locations, but that will cost an extra $3,000.

Purchase of the artworks is funded by a tax on utilities.

Hunt was a marine biologist before becoming a full-time artist some 30 years ago, so he specializes in marine-related sculptures; however, he’s currently working on a black rhino for a big-game hunter and has created dinosaurs and other non-aquatic creatures. He’s known for a signature style that shows the skeletons inside the animals’ bodies.

He works in both bronze and fabricated metal, and his works are in museums and collections all over the country.

Although the Kraken is a mythical creature that appears in Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” Hunt said he’s basing Oak Harbor’s monster on the giant Pacific octopus, which live in the waters surrounding Whidbey Island.

The sculpture will have a steel frame.

The octopus, he said, will be made from hammered copper. The Nautilus will be steel treated with a special chemical that will turn rust into dark-colored iron phosphate, creating an industrial look.

“The Kraken will be large enough to look like it’s overwhelming the Nautilus,” he said. “It’s going to look cool.”

Jessie Stensland: jstensland@whidbeynewsgroup.com; 360-675-6611 ext. 5056.

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