Construction is nearing completion on "Perseverance and Passage," artist George Ybarra's sculpture for Silver Park.

While the towering structure will be officially unveiled on First Friday, Aug. 7, it's hard to miss – the stark modernist form measures 28 by 11 by 10 feet, making it the tallest piece of public art in Missoula.

It was made from fabricated, weather-resistant Corten steel.

Ybarra's proposal was selected from dozens of applicants, and paid for with money from the city's Percent for Art program, in addition to funds from the Missoula Redevelopment Agency and a donation from the Morris and Helen Silver Program.

Ybarra's design was executed with help from numerous local businesses.

Peter Costello at CADMont helped him scale up his model to its current size.

Tom Beaudette of Beaudette Engineering assisted with the structural integrity and concert footings.

Wade Sellers of Professional Construction Services Inc. and his crew were welding the final, massive piece of steel into place this week.

Sellers said it's a good design, and it's been fun "trying to make it come to life."

The design commemorates the history of the Old Sawmill District and the people who worked there over the years, while also looking forward to the new developments there: the park, the planned condominiums and a brewery.

Ybarra is well-known around Missoula for his metal sculptures, but this is by far the largest he's ever made. And he's hewed to a strict modernist design.

"This is a piece of art that you could see anywhere in the world," Ybarra said. "To have it here in my own hometown means a lot to me."

The sculpture materials and fabrication cost $45,000. A third of the money was contributed each by the Helen and Morris Silver Foundation, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, and the city of Missoula's Percent for Art program.

The design was selected by representatives of the MRA, the Silver Foundation and the city's Public Art Committee.

Marilyn Marler, the City Council representative on that committee, said it was selected because it reflects the history of the site and its future.

Ted Hughes, another member of the committee, said Ybarra had a firm plan to build it within the budget, fit with the site, and had a modernist design that will become iconic over time.

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Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Entertainment Editor for The Missoulian.