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RACC Press Release: National Endowment for the Arts grant supports sculpture restoration

National Endowment for the Arts grant supports sculpture restoration


The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support the restoration of the sculpture Leland #1 by renowned Northwest artist Lee Kelly in collaboration with his late wife Bonnie Bronson. This is one of 19 awards in Oregon announced by NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman last month. 


“We are grateful for the NEA’s support to help repair Leland #1 to reflect the artist’s original intent,” said RACC Executive Director Eloise Damrosch. “This is a very important sculpture in the City’s public art collection.”


Created in 1975, Leland #1 is a steel and porcelain enamel sculpture located at Portland Center Park, South of SW Lincoln street, between SW 2nd and 3rd Avenue in downtown Portland. This twenty-foot large-scale sculpture consists of three stacked constructions, with brightly colored porcelain enamel panels attached to the sides. In need of structural stabilization and resurfacing for several years now, this cultural asset would have been deaccessioned if not restored in the near future.


RACC is responsible for maintaining the City’s artwork on a regular basis, but the total estimated cost of restoring Leland #1 is $57,500, more than RACC’s maintenance budget alone can accommodate.  With this award, which must be matched, RACC has secured $39,500 toward the project and is now working to raise the remaining $18,000 from businesses and individuals to make the restoration possible.


The restoration of Leland #1 is scheduled to begin this summer under the guidance of Marie Laibinis-Craft, an experienced objects conservator. Artist Lee Kelly will be working closely with Laibinis-Craft and the RACC public art department during the restoration process which may take three to four weeks to complete. 


Born in Idaho, Lee Kelly attended the Portland Art Museum School in the fifties and has worked and taught in the Portland region for decades. He has received numerous awards for his work including the Governor’s Award for the Arts (1987) and the Masters Fellowship in Sculpture from the State of Oregon (1992). His work can be found in the collections of the Portland Art Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, the Virginia Museum in Richmond, as well as in public collections, universities and businesses throughout the United States. 


Kelly’s wife, Bonnie Bronson, was a well-known Northwest artist before her tragic death in a climbing accident in 1990. In addition to her own artwork, she collaborated with Kelly on Leland #1 and several other sculpture commissions. The Bonnie Bronson Fund was established in her memory in 1981 to award an annual fellowship to a working artist in the region.


NEA Grants Announcement: www.arts.gov/news/news10/grant-announcement-april.html

Lee Kelly: http://www.leekellysculpture.net; www.elizabethleach.com

RACC Public Art Program: www.racc.org/publicart

Leland #1  in RACC’s public art database: http://bit.ly/d0F19i

Mary Bauer

Communications Associate

Regional Arts & Culture Council

108 NW 9th Avenue, #300

Portland, OR 97209