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Community Comes together to Build Functional Recycled Art in the Garden
On Sunday, June 5th from 10am till 2pm the residents of Willow Ponds, and artist, MacRae Wylde came together to create a piece of functional art for the public park.

Last year a new public park was constructed using mostly reclaimed materials from the site including boulders, soil, metal, tires, broken concrete and more creating two 4,000 sq ft lawn play areas, a 10’ slide perched on Blueberry hill (Blueberry plants for the kids to harvest from), a 10’ play tunnel and a soon to be installed swing. An arched 14’ metal bridge welded from reclaimed steel pipe from a local cannery building was built by MacRae Wylde to create a walkway over the newly created natural pond. The June 5th event completed that bridge to make it the ‘Discovery Bridge’ and become a functional piece of art in the garden.

MacRae Wylde is a local metal artist with training from some of the finest art schools including The School at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, College of Santé Fe, and The International School of Art in Umbria, Italy and the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building. He enjoys creating works made from reclaimed stuff. And stuff is what he will have.

The kids (including the big kids too!) who live in Willow Ponds have been collecting odd reclaimed metal items to make a library of materials to weld on to the bridge. As MacRae says “Art is perception. I put stuff together. I am a materialist. I like to create a library of parts that I find interesting. Sculpture comes from blending different parts. The parts come together to create a final piece. I try to have a reason for everything I do. Aesthetics, function, form, purpose, economy, pleasure, precedence, all gets factored in to any project.”

The day was an adventure for everyone and at the end of the day; a special bridge built from parts doomed for the garbage dump was built by neighbors and local artists. As a designer and developer, Jacquie’s vision of the bridge was to be a place where kids and adults can stroll and discover fun items, guessing what the metal may have once been, playing with the moving parts and allowing their imaginations to grow right in the garden along with native vegetation, croaking frogs and song birds. After years of perusing playground catalogues she realized that the playground parts were right there on the ground they were excavating and the play areas needed to be places where imaginations grew. “Twenty years from now, the kids that grew up in this neighborhood can come back and still find their special piece of metal right where they welded it and be able to share it with future generations”.

This is only the beginning to the public gathering places to be built in Willow Ponds along with the many more custom designed home sites designed for future phases. The neighbors will also create some more fun art later in the season including bird houses made from reclaimed materials from the original barn that once sat on the site. A Westside Community Trail by Hood River Parks and Recreation will eventually connect Willow Ponds parks with neighboring schools and other recreational sites.

On July 7th from 5-7pm, Willow Ponds will also welcome the community with a Hood River Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours in the park and a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the public play areas.