The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded a $30,000 grant for a public art project in Congress Square Park, the city of Portland announced in a statement Friday.

The money will be used to install a sculpture being created by Sarah Sze, a New York City-based artist hired by the city in 2016.

The city is working on plans to improve the entire intersection of Congress and High streets, as well as the adjacent public spaces.

The effort stems from the city’s attempt to sell Congress Square to a hotel developer in 2013 – a controversial move that was overturned through a citizen referendum that added protections to the city’s public spaces.

The city said Sze is still finalizing her plans for the park art, while the landscape architectural firm of WRT Design is working on plans to redesign the intersection and adjacent open spaces.

The art project is a partnership between the city, the Portland Public Art Committee and the Friends of Congress Square Park, which has a three-year agreement with the city to manage events and amenities at the park.


The art committee has set aside $225,000 for the art project, while the friends group received a $100,000 grant from Southwest Airlines to add amenities to the park.

If final plans are accepted by the City Council, the project would require “significant fundraising efforts” before being implemented.

In 2016, the project received a $25,000 National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town Grant.” It has also received some funding from the Quimby Family Foundation.

The Art Works grant was part of $25 million in funding for 2018 announced by the NEA.

“It is energizing to see the impact that the arts are making throughout the United States,” NEA Chairman Jane Chu said in a written statement. “These NEA-supported projects, such as this one to the City of Portland, are good examples of how the arts build stronger and more vibrant communities, improve well-being, prepare children for success, and increase the quality of our lives.”

Randy Billings can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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