ARLINGTON – A new sculpture in memory of a beloved pillar of the Arlington community is now on display in a garden in the City Hall plaza on Olympic Avenue.
City crews installed the piece titled “Rip Rap” in memory of George Boulton, a longtime Kiwanian and downtown florist who many called the heart and soul of the community for his volunteer work helping young people, and Arlington in general. He died March 18 from complications of bone marrow cancer.
The Arlington Arts Council donated the piece done by local stone sculptor Reg Akright, who had originally designed it to pay homage to heavy construction and the trades, and to everyone who worked the trades like he did as a bridge ironworker, underground miner and heavy construction laborer.
The artwork was created using stones, beach cobbles, rebar and steel pipe from an old pipe company on 67th Avenue in Arlington. The top, highly polished 14-inch round stone is black Egyptian granite.
Akright said he was honored to have the piece selected as a memorial to Boulton.
“I finished the sculpture in 2015 just a few months after my father, Robert L. Akright, passed away,” Akright said. “He was a Colorado-based geologist who worked throughout the western states and a gifted oil painter. I quietly, privately, dedicated this piece to his memory.”
Akright didn’t know Boulton personally, but he has heard the stories.
“I always hoped this piece, because it is quiet and even a little floral in shape, would be placed in just the garden setting that you chose,” he said.
He added, “To honor a person like George, that is also something special.”
Arts Council president Sarah Arney spotted the sculpture in a retrospective of the past 25 artists of the year at Schack Art Center in Everett earlier this year. Akright was the art center’s artist of the year in 2008 for his contributions to the art community of Snohomish County.
Arney noticed the industrial nature of the piece makes it appropriate for Arlington, but with the passing of Boulton, it became clearly a vase with a flower bud.
“Some say it brings to mind an ice cream cone,” Arney said. “That’s OK, too, I am sure George won’t mind.”
Boulton was a loyal supporter of the arts and was named AAC’s Art Advocate of Arlington in 2016.
“We knew we had to find a piece of art to dedicate to George,” Arney said.
City staff ordered a base and plaques, then prepared the flower garden for the sculpture. The Arlington Kiwanis and Garden clubs donated to the project.
The sculpture is the first of three pieces that the Arts Council plans to donate to bolster the city’s public art inventory.