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Flower installation blooms in downtown Albany

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On Friday afternoon, Albany Parks and Recreation Director Kim Lyddane stood at the corner of Lyon Street and Eighth Avenue, watching the sun make a rare appearance and light up the newest addition to town.

“They’re just gorgeous,” Lyddane said, of the giant metal wildflowers installed at the gateway to downtown Albany.

Designed by South Carolina artist DeeDee Morrison, the art installation has been a long time coming.

In 1998, the city passed the "percent for art" provision that stated a percentage of the cost of the new police and fire stations would go towards art.

Twenty years later, the City Council approved $80,000 for the wildflowers — a project chosen by the city’s art commission.

“The money is part of a separate fund,” Lyddane said, regarding the confusion sometimes appearing around city spending, particularly when budget shortfalls are the topic of discussion. “This money cannot be spent on anything else, and the money spent on the project wasn’t taking away from other departments,” she added.

Other departments, residents and even passers-by on the Pacific Boulevard overpass will be able to enjoy the installation, however long it took to finally settle the big metal blossoms into their new home.

The foundations were poured and necessary electrical work was done last fall, before the weather turned wet, Lyddane said, in preparation for a grand unveiling in the summer. This after the project was already delayed due its location. 

"With this location, we had to have ODOT approve, and sometimes that is a long process," Lyddane said.

Then COVID-19 impacted that schedule. And while the flowers were finally rooted on Friday, it wasn’t quite the event previously imagined.

“In a non-COVID year, we would have had a celebration,” Lyddane said. “We would have had the artist out here doing activities with schoolkids, but that can’t happen now. In the spring and summer we’ll have a celebration, but until then we have a lovely new piece of art for people to come and take a look at.”

The sculptures, installed by EC Electric, stand around 12 feet tall and are illuminated by LED lights in the evenings.

“Even without the lights, with the sun coming through, they’re gorgeous,” Lyddane said. “We’re excited to have this new piece of art.”

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