Artist George C. Scott demonstrates the size of the sculpture.

The sculpture body is lifted into place with a forklift by the Des Moines Marina crew.

Des Moines Marina crew member Pat Wolfram applies adhesive to hold the glass panels in place.

Artist George C. Scott and Patrice Thorell.

Artist George C. Scott installs the first of the fused-glass panels.

Story & Photos by Gene Achziger

A 12-foot recycled marine buoy – pock-marked with holes soon-to-be-filled with fused glass panels – bobbed up in the south end of the Des Moines Marina on Friday, Dec. 21, the latest gift to the community from the Des Moines Legacy Foundation…just in time for Christmas.

Aptly named the Marinascope, the Puget Sound Environmental Sculpture is a steel buoy that was used on the construction of the second Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It has been transformed by renowned glass artist and Des Moines resident George C. Scott into a walk-through kaleidoscope. Natural sunlight through fused-glass panels will illuminate the sculpture’s interior to reflect the city’s maritime connections and even provide a window to the community’s past with ghost-like images of historic waterfront scenes.

The artist took his inspiration from a kaleidoscope admired by late long-time Legacy Foundation board member and City Councilwoman Carmen Scott (no relation) and honors her memory.

The unique sculpture was installed in the South Marina Park by Des Moines Marina workers and is the product of a unique collaboration between the community various governmental agencies.

Partial funding was provided by the Port of Seattle through its Airport Communities Environmental grants program. The plinth and installation services were provided by the City of Des Moines Marina crew, and the bulk of the funding and coordination were provided by the all-volunteer non-profit Des Moines Legacy Foundation. The artist generously volunteered his talent, time, studio, equipment and materials and worked with Washington Chain and a host of professional and skilled trades, many of who donated their resources to the project.

Various community volunteers also teamed up to make the project a reality. Their contribution included helping create the glass panels. Those panels will be installed over the next few weeks, weather permitting. A formal dedication ceremony is being planned for next spring, at which time Marinascope will be formally donated to the City of Des Moines’ Art on Poverty Bay Outdoor Sculpture Project.

The sculpture project was the brainstorm of former Legacy board member Nancy Stephan who once served as president of the Des Moines Arts Commission. The project began in 2013 as a collection of sculptures sited throughout the community that is on two-year loans from various artists, but now includes many permanent artworks that have been purchased and donated for the City by the Legacy Foundation.

“This is an exciting example of what can be accomplished when government agencies work with their citizens to build community,” said Gene Achziger, Legacy Foundation president.

“Without the community’s contributions, this unique project never would have happened,” Achziger said. “And in addition to the fantastic work by George C. Scott, we all owe a debt to Patrice Thorell, the retired director of Parks, Recreation and Senior Services for the City of Des Moines and secretary of the Legacy Foundation. Her incredible knowledge of how to leverage public and private funding enables us to make this project a reality and add permanent additions to the collection.”

The Legacy Foundation is about to begin its third decade of building community through encouraging philanthropy and providing funding for filling the gaps left when there just aren’t enough tax dollars to go around. Legacy has helped thousands of disadvantaged youth participate in parks and recreations programs; backstopped funding for vital senior services programs such as the Hyde Shuttle senior transportation system and Meals On Wheels, and increased the quality of cultural and arts activities in the community.

“Our generous contributors have raised $1.7 million since 1999 to support our mission of building community,” Achziger said. “We’re always looking for the next opportunity to leverage support for programs that just don’t get funded by tax dollars alone. Stay tuned.”