CASCADE, a public art project in partnership with Gallery One to commemorate our 50th anniversary.

Why an arch?  Arches are present throughout history, around the world, and among many different cultures. They are present in churches and parks; we even have one at the original entry of Gallery One. Arches are often used when two people engage in matrimony, the arch representing a union of the two and a new space created by that union. An arch can also represent the commitment of the community to Gallery One Visual Arts Center and bring people together through creativity.  Gallery One hopes the arch, which visually echoes the existing arches on City Hall, will serve as a symbol of our mutual commitment to our creative community.

What’s it made of?  Artist Robert Harrison has thoughtfully integrated local materials into the arch, as well as imagery from students and words from community members to create a representative sampling of the diversity in our community, of landscape and character.  The terracotta clay pipes that serve as the sides of the arch and the feet of the benches, mirror the flagpole shape and also the existing arches on City Hall. The color of the pipes also reference the warm brick tones prevalent in Ellensburg.  On top of the pipe, Robert has transformed local basalt and bricks from the Davidson building by adding colorful glazes (a paint for ceramics). The different colors and shapes represent the different people in Ellensburg, their different backgrounds, ideas and opinions. Robert says the configuration is meant to echo the Cascades. The top part of the arch is composed of granite slabs that have been embellished with a combination of drawings from the Art After School program at Gallery One and Robert’s own interpretation of the landscape. The benches are comprised of the terracotta pipes and sycamore wood that has been cut, treated and donated by local resident and artist John Graf.

A little bit of background: Two years ago, Gallery One decided to investigate a way to publicly celebrate and commemorate our 50th anniversary.  We knew we wanted to create a piece of public art and use our one-of-a-kind ceramics studio to do so. Of course we wanted to celebrate our programs for youth too.  At the National Ceramics Conference in Portland, Monica Miller, the Director of Gallery One saw a postcard with a clay arch on it advertising the Helena Studio Tours. That summer (2017) she drove to Helena to meet artist Robert Harrison. In Helena, Monica was able to see a number of the arches in person and meet the artist.  Monica was convinced this was the person to help celebrate the creative community of Ellensburg and that the arch was the perfect symbol. With the enthusiasm from the Gallery One Board and the endorsement of the Ellensburg Arts Commission, she applied for NEA funding which was granted!  A year and a half later, Robert Harrison broke ground to begin construction on the lawn of City Hall.


Artist Robert Harrison arrives for week 1 of install. With the help of Belsaas and Smith, the foundation is poured. The clay pipes are ready to be delivered from California!  The next phase will be to set the pipes in September.