Next stop, Alameda. Scott Donahue says he designed "Hand Up" to express ideas about history and multi-cultural issues. He recently took a few minutes to talk about this sculpture that enlivens the Alameda light-rail station.
Westword: Where are you from? Where do you reside now?
Scott Donahue: I was born just outside of Chicago, grew up in suburban New York City and have been living in Emeryville, California, for most of my adult life.
How did your collaboration with RTD come about?
I heard about this commission because RTD advertised for all of the commissions. I was selected as a finalist, I came to Denver and presented my idea.
How did you come up with the Idea for this piece?
My artwork concept for this site grew out of earlier work and, of course, the site itself. I was looking for a way to make figures for our urban areas. One figure represents a wide range of people.
These sculptures are multi-historic, multi-ethnic and are a kind of a composite of peoples who have come from all over the world.
What or who inspired this piece? And how?
I was inspired to make a sculpture that emphasized the possibility that we can help each other up and in extension make a community that helps us as well.
When people are on their daily journey and walk past your work, what do you hope they are thinking and feeling?
I would like people who walk by these two figures to think about people who they could help, and help build some kind of better community and place.
How do you feel about public transportation?
Good public transportation helps build community. Combining bicycling and public transportation is something I love to do.
What is your favorite piece of public art?
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I don't have a favorite public art work. "Cloud Gate" by Aneesh Kapoor in Chicago's Millennium Park is probably the world's most successful contemporary public art work. I saw it through its design development and its completion, because a friend of mine fabricated it here in Oakland. The city of Chicago has an unusual community because extremely wealthy people care about their city and are willing to spend their own money to make civic improvements. This sculpture started out as a $5 million project and became a $17 million project. Some people got mad at the price increase, but you can tell it was worth it. To view more of Scott Donahue's work, visit his website.