City approves draft contract for Okaya, Japan sister city sculpture

Mount Pleasant’s City Commission approved a draft contract Monday night allowing the city to create a sculpture in honor of its sister city relationship with Okaya, Japan.

The contract, totaling in more than $12,000, will cover the cost of materials needed for the sculpture and airfare for the two artists.

City Manager Nancy Ridley said the project is in conjunction with their planned visit to Okaya in 2015. Earlier this year, representatives from Okaya visited Mount Pleasant to see the city and to engage in different cultural activities around town.

Ridley said Bruce Kilmer, the chair of the city’s Okaya visit planning task force, spearheaded the project – Kilmer is a former mayor of Mount Pleasant.

The sculpture is a rendition of two tree cross-sections intertwining together, Kilmer said. The image of the two trees, he added, is meant to symbolize the two cities growing and learning from each other. Inside the trees are oddly-shaped age rings, which Kilmer said imply continued growth throughout the ages.

“The artists researched the relationships between our two cities, what’s meaningful to them and what they’ve given us in the past,” he said. “The Japanese will love this. They’re really into this kind of symbolism.”

Once completed, the sculpture will stand six feet tall and will be placed in the park Okaya officials have designated in honor of Mount Pleasant.

Commissioner Kathy Ling said it will be a welcome addition because the park remains empty.

Ridley said she was impressed by models of the sculpture and the integrity of the artists working on the piece.

However, Tony Kulick had his concerns about the amount of time the artists had to work on the project, stating “artists are notorious about meeting deadlines.”

He asked if Ridley was confident enough in the artists to have it done in time.

Ridley said she was, however – in the off chance that the artists take their time in the creative process – she worked a penalty clause into their contract.

“I’m not sure how comfortable the artists will be with the penalty clause, but we’re attempting to put some mechanism in place to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Ridley said. “So far they’ve met the obligations they’ve committed to.”

Check back with for more on the City Commission’s visit to Okaya.


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