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  • Portsmouth NH 400th Inc. seeks artists’ proposals and sponsors for Maritime Sculpture Garden in Bohenko Gateway Park

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    PORTSMOUTH–Portsmouth NH 400th, Inc. (PNH400), the 501c3 organization created to manage the 2023 commemoration of the city’s founding, is soliciting proposals from sculptors interested in having their works considered for a maritime-themed sculpture garden in Bohenko Gateway Park adjacent to the Piscataqua River. The sculpture garden concept for the existing city park was selected based on community input to the Legacy Task Force which is spearheading projects intended to last beyond the 2023 celebration, enriching the city for future generations.

    The sculpture garden is expected to enhance the park completed in 2019 as a gateway beautification project on the Market Street Extension, the main access route from Route I-95 to the historic heart of Portsmouth. Bohenko Gateway Park complements both the dramatic new Ruth Griffin Bridge connecting Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine and the gateway project’s new landscaping, road alignment, lighting, bicycle corridor and sidewalks. The maritime-themed sculpture park links the newly-created vista of the river and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on one side of the gateway and the USS Albacore Submarine Memorial on the other, where the historic research submarine and garden memorializing Navy sailors lost aboard US submarines host US Navy ceremonies and nearly 100,000 visitors each year.

    Bohenko Gateway Park includes a city-funded pavilion and kiosk with historical information about the city’s centuries-old maritime history and riverine environment. The maritime themes of the sculptures selected for the Legacy project will frame that educational component and accent the opportunity afforded by the existing benches and pathways to contemplate the riverfront setting. Just a short walk from downtown, this sculpture garden will attract Seacoast visitors and members of the community, providing the perfect location for quiet reflection, a family picnic or educational programs on the historic port’s maritime history.

    “Prospective sculptors and sponsors should consider the Maritime Sculpture Garden at Bohenko Gateway Park a significant opportunity to participate in the key Legacy Project of the 400th. Their contributions to the park will endure for the next 100 years or more,” said Portsmouth NH 400 Managing Director Valerie Rochon.

    According to city staff, the location could accommodate six to eight sculptures. The plan is to begin with fewer sculptures that would be installed in 2023, with plans to expand after 2023.

    Portsmouth NH 400 invites sculptors to submit designs in response to the RFP. (Go to: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/621ce098ba07af37f6c37f19/t/62f3e42967dfcc5b64105782/1660150825157/Sculpture+RFP-220810.pdf)

    Winning selections will be chosen by a committee that includes representatives from the community, city staff and others with expertise in public art, based on the city’s Public Art Procedural Guidelines.

    In defining the “Maritime Theme,” the Legacy Project Team leader Ernie Greenslade explained, “Once one of the nation’s busiest ports and shipbuilding cities, Portsmouth’s location on the Piscataqua River and access to the Atlantic has long shaped its history in many ways, from shipbuilding (gundalows and clipper ships), to commerce, to defense (the nation’s first Naval Shipyard). In addition to celebrating the seafaring population and human creations, concepts may focus on the natural maritime world, including plants, animals and the landscape. Creative interpretations of the maritime theme are welcome.”

    Portsmouth NH 400 is seeking $200,000 to cover the design, fabrication, transportation, documentation and installation expenses including installation insurance. Those interested in becoming sponsors of the maritime sculpture garden should contact Susan Labrie, PNH400 Community Engagement Officer: susan@portsmouthnh400.org.

    Project work must be completed in accordance with all applicable statues, laws, and regulations. Permitting may be required (with City assistance) depending on location of the installation. Projects in a range of prices will be considered. It is possible that one signature project will be selected, along with three or four smaller pieces. While PNH400 is interested in original concepts, already-existing artwork that meets the requirements of this project will be considered, as long as similar art is not being exhibited within 60 miles of Portsmouth. For more information about Bohenko Gateway Park, go to: https://www.cityofportsmouth.com/planportsmouth/market-street-gateway-corridor-improvement-project

    Questions should go to Ernie Greenslade, PNH400 Legacy project Team chair: sculpture@portsmouthNH400.org

    About Portsmouth NH 400th, Inc. (PortsmouthNH400.org)
    The Portsmouth NH 400th anniversary celebrations are made possible in part thanks to the support of Bank of America, Piscataqua Savings Bank, members of the 400 Shoalers Club and 1623 Revolutionaries Club and additional sponsors and donors. The goal of Portsmouth NH 400th, Inc. is to give the community an inclusive opportunity to tell the stories that are important to them, through programs, events, exhibits and legacy projects. Portsmouth NH 400th celebrates the diverse and animated social, political, intellectual, cultural, economic and spiritual history of Portsmouth, from before settlement in 1623 to the present.

    Portsmouth NH 400th, Inc. invites individuals and organizations considering programs and events for the Portsmouth NH 400th Anniversary celebration to join the collaborative effort. A key intention is for the Portsmouth NH 400th, Inc. team to engage the next generation(s) in exploring what the City’s 2023 legacy might be and deciding how they might steward Portsmouth and its history beyond 2023.​