By Laura Swanson
There’s a new addition at the Blue Heron Cheese & Wine Company – and it’s not a new farm animal. It’s sure to become an iconic part of a visit to the century-old barn in Tillamook. Now standing watch over Tillamook’s Blue Heron Cheese & Wine Company, is a newly erected sculpture, The Heron, adding yet another must-see attraction for local residents and visitors to Oregon’s north coast.
Rising from its perch near the entrance to the cheese and wine tasting room, deli and gift shop, on a 10-ton rock, the 19-foot-tall sculpture is Oregon City artist Ben Dye’s most recent contribution to the Pacific Northwest art scene. “A heron is a peaceful and diligent creature with striking lines and graceful movements that make for a challenging yet satisfying subject to render as art,” said Dye, who was commissioned by the owners of Blue Heron to design and build the piece.
Denny Pastega, owner of the Blue Heron Cheese & Wine Company with the help of daughter and Blue Heron manager Jessica Bush and Meghan Burdick, commissioned the sculpture for their business after meeting with several artists. Dye then worked with Pastega and his team to develop a bold motif worthy of the dramatic rural setting and the company’s 40-year history. The result is an eye-catching piece that evokes the timeless grace of a blue heron amid the coastal landscape.
Dye specializes in creating large public sculpture that allows communities and institutions to make a meaningful statement about their origin and identity. He enjoys creating pieces that become a destination for the public while reinforcing the values of a place, community, or institution. “I like designing iconic pieces that capture the spirit of a town or business and create a sense of shared identity.” Since 2006, Ben Dye has been awarded public art commissions at various locations in the Pacific Northwest, including Lake Oswego, West Linn, Canby, Milwaukie, Oregon City, Estacada, Happy Valley, Longview, and Wilsonville. Find out more about Ben Dye and his art at bendyesculpture.com and on the Ben Dye Sculpture Facebook page.
The Heron took about a year to create, from design to completion. Dye created The Heron using his signature style patchwork of small stainless-steel plates that allow smooth curves and evoke natural motion. This distinctive style was born of Dye’s fascination with the small elements in nature that make up larger forms, such as a school of fish that appear move as one.
To create the outside surface of The Heron, Dye started at the base, painstakingly welding the roughly square-shaped stainless-steel pieces, and continuing upwards in a spiral pattern. This technique enables the finished piece to shed water as with roofing shingles and adds strength and structural integrity to the overall construction. The result is a durable, relatively light weight form that ensures minimal maintenance as it acts as a light-catching, highly visible sculpture that invites people to engage with it; to look closer, to touch and explore.
“The Blue Heron is a feast for all the senses, and by adding a distinctive piece of art like this, something that evokes our namesake in such a dramatic way and commemorates our 40 years,” said Pastega. “And this sculpture will be here well into our next 40 years.”
Let the photo opportunities and selfies begin at “The Heron” sculpture, at Blue Heron Cheese & Wine Company, located just off Highway 101 in Tillamook. Share your photos on the Blue Heron French Cheese Company Facebook page or tag them on Instagram. There is so much to enjoy at the Blue Heron — the scenery, animals, cheese and food samples, wine tastings, deli, locally produced food products, unique gifts and much more. Shop online at blueheronoregon.com or call 800-275-0639. The Blue Heron is open daily from 8 am to 6 pm, seven days a week.