Patrick Sullivan works quickly, but progress on “ Motion, ” the sculptor’s 9-foot-tall ode to Las Vegas transportation, is meant to be slow.
Sullivan began work on the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada -funded project March 19 at the Centennial Hills Transit Center and Park & Ride , 7313 Grand Montecito Parkway. He said he’s likely to spend this month stripping 1,000 pounds of Indiana limestone from the shoebox-shaped slab eventually set to become “Motion.”
Sullivan, whose work has been showcased in Ohio, Canada and as far away as Germany, beat out nearly three dozen contestants nationwide for the $55,000 RTC art commission issued in December.
The Seattle-born, Canadian-raised sculptor, now based in Pine Valley, Utah, holds a bachelor’s degree in sculpture .
His RTC transit center piece aims to depict the history of movement in the Las Vegas Valley with stone flourishes harkening back to every form of transportation — from the foot traffic of yesteryear to the traffic jams of today.
“That represents walking by feet,” Sullivan said of a seashell-like pattern running the length of a “Motion” scale model. “The wagon wheel you see on the side, that’s the dominant feature … it symbolizes the early settlers coming through the valley.”
The wagon wheel’s hub — an arm-thick hole bored through one-third of the statue’s top — is shared with a bicycle tire and more modern representations of transportation on the statue’s rear.
“That’s the one thing (RTC) asked for a bit more detail on : the more modern stuff — trucks, buses, cars and trains,” the 61-year-old sculptor explained.
Sullivan expects to spend plenty of time over the next month or so fielding questions from onlookers curious about his work on the 7-ton slab of rock in the parking lot.
He said the statue , which must be craned to its permanent location near the transit center bus bays upon completion , might have been cheaper and easier to do from the studio, but he said part of the fun of sculpture lies in taking art to the public.
“I pitched the idea of doing it in public early on,” Sullivan said. “The Public Art Commission of the RTC loved it right from the beginning, the idea of getting the public involved.”
Sullivan encourages visitors to the sculpture site.
He said a handful of Las Vegas-area school buses will be headed his way in the coming weeks, though eight-hour days spent chipping away at a Flintstones-sized boulder attracts adults’ attention , too.
“What is that? Some kind of giant rock?” a passer-by asked Sullivan during his second day on the job.
“It’s a public art project,” he answered with a smile.
For more information, visit rtcsnv.com or stop by the sculpture site, preferably between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays .
Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter James DeHaven at email@example.com or 702-477-3839.