By Kelly House The Oregonian
PORTLAND, Ore. — Jay Jarvie wants to build a West Coast answer to the Statue of Liberty, but he estimates he needs at least $10 million first.
The Medford resident with a background in metal forging and architecture says he wants Oregon to become home to a 140-feet-tall bronze statue to be called “Providence Lifts All.”
The statue, cast with the same metal as the famous 151-foot-tall beacon of freedom on New York’s Liberty Island, would serve as a reminder of authority, preparedness, protection, wisdom and responsibility.
She would serve as a sister to Lady Liberty, but not a replica. Wearing a long cloak that blows in the wind to reveal her lower legs and warrior’s garb, Providence would hold a gleaming sword in the air. Her left hand would clasp a scroll.
Jarvie has created a 56-inch model of the figure he hopes to see towering over visitors one day on a 30-acre green somewhere in Oregon.
Jarvie has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the next stage of design, which involves building a life-sized statue to use as a basis for the final, laser-enlarged monument. He speaks with all seriousness about his ability to pull it off, but wound up raising only $185 of its $35,000 funding goal.
“The money itself is a daunting task,” Jarvie said. “But as a lot of people say, ‘you’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t try something.’”
Jarvie has amassed a team of friends and colleagues to serve on the project’s executive board. He has researched construction options and collected quotes regarding the cost of laser-scanning a life-sized statue and enlarging the figure into massive bronze plates that would form Providence’s 140-foot-tall figure. He envisions her standing atop a 40-foot pedestal. The monument and surrounding park would be open to the public, free of charge.
But first, he needs the cash.
Most of Oregon’s public art is funded with a small percentage of the dollars used from construction projects on state and municipal buildings. But since Jarvie plans to privately fund Providence, finding backers could be a long and tedious process.
“It’s an expensive undertaking, to be sure,” said Keith Lachowicz, public collections manager for the Regional Arts and Culture Council.
Jarvie is aiming to finish fundraising in two years.
He has simplified Providence’s design to save some money. Unlike the Statue of Liberty, visitors won’t be allowed inside, and the pedestal will be less ornate.
If Jarvie realizes his dream, Providence will become Oregon’s largest statue by far. Raymond Kaskey’s iconic Portlandia currently holds the title, at 35 feet tall. That project totaled more than $350,000 in construction costs when it was built in 1985, not including a great deal of pro-bono work, Lachowicz said.
Besides being significantly smaller than the planned Providence statue, Portlandia didn’t require a land purchase.
Jarvie expects Providence to come in at about $10 million, but constantly fluctuating materials costs make those figures difficult to determine.
After the unsuccessful Kickstarter, Jarvie will have to find another way to fund the life-sized model, which he hopes to use to lure more donors.
A spokeswoman for the Northeast regional offices of the National Parks Service, which runs the Statue of Liberty, said the parks service was unaware of Jarvie’s project. Spokeswoman Jane Ahern said hundreds of smaller replicas of Lady Liberty exist worldwide, but no one has ever attempted a replica or sister statue as ambitious as Jarvie’s. Lady Liberty receives 5 million annual visitors and is staffed with a four-person grounds crew to maintain the building’s exterior, Ahern said.
As for the sheer work involved in building such a massive statue, “it’s not as difficult as one might think,” said Megan Atiyeh, who coordinates the Oregon Arts Commission’s public art program.
“We make big things out of metal all the time in the U.S.,” she said. “The good thing about doing laser is it works into existing industrial fabrication facilities.”
Recent large-scale sculpture projects worldwide include Anish Kapoor’s 377-foot tubular steel structure built for the London Olympics, which reportedly cost more than $30 million to construct. Hong Kong’s 112-feet-tall bronze Tian Tan Buddha cost nearly $68 million when it was completed in 1993.
Jarvie says he won’t let the fundraising false start discourage him. After all, the United States took a decade to raise enough money to build the pedestal upon which Lady Liberty stands.
“It’s definitely just a matter of getting the message out there,” he said. “As soon as people believe it really could happen, they want to be a part of it.”