Have you seen this spiky-looking steel sculpture near Costco? Here’s the story behind it

What’s that metal thing that looks like a spiky pine cone off Mahogany Avenue near Costco?

It’s Bellingham’s newest piece of public art, a sculpture titled “Rain Flower,” created by Noah Ives of Building Wellness Lab out of Portland, Oregon.

The $65,000 sculpture was installed on Sept. 13 in the North End Regional Pond, which collects and stores stormwater runoff.

The city of Bellingham’s One Percent for Art program paid for the piece.

Created in 2015, the program sets aside 1% of the construction budget of the city’s largest public building or construction projects — those that are eligible and cost at least $2 million — for artwork.

This sculpture is the fourth one created through the program. Others include the iconic “acid ball” at Waypoint Park in the city’s waterfront.

“Rain Flower” is made up of 85 metal “petals” laser-cut from sheet steel, formed with a press brake and then welded together, according to a news release from the city of Bellingham on Wednesday, Sept. 18.

Ives explained his ideas for the piece, which was among 18 applicants.

“The ‘Rain Flower’ is inspired by the natural beauty that surrounds it. It is both plant-like and architectural; both a solid object and an open vessel for wind, rain, light and the life of the pond to flow through,” he stated in the release.

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This rendering shows how the view of the sculpture “Rain Flower” will change as water fills the North End Regional Pond off Mahogany Avenue near Costco in Bellingham. City of Bellingham Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

“Time is integral to the design. Over the next six months, it will mature from steel-gray to rust-orange, and as the pond fills with rain. Its purpose is to celebrate Bellingham’s wonderful landscape and encourage visitors to engage more closely with their surroundings,” Ives stated.

What can be seen of the sculpture will change with how much water is in the pond, the city said.

When the pond is dry, “Rain Flower” can be seen in its entirety. When the pond contains more water, different parts of the sculpture will be submerged — making the artwork ever-changing, according to the city.

Its presence will create “a visual interest” along newly developed Mahogany Avenue and the pedestrian trail adjacent to the pond, the city said. The sculpture is also near the Aurora Court development in north Bellingham.

Art in public places reinforces the city’s status as a regional arts destination, draws visitors and improves the quality of life here, Bellingham officials said.

Kie Relyea has been a reporter at The Bellingham Herald since 1997 and currently writes about social services and recreation in Whatcom County. She started her career in 1991 as a reporter and editor in Northern California.