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Controversial art installation unveiled in Portland

The "street lamp" structure at Woodford’s Corner was approved by the city council and cost the city $25,000. (WGME)

PORTLAND (WGME) – A new piece of art in Portland is raising some eyebrows, and questions, about how it looks and how much it cost.

The "street lamp" structure at Woodford’s Corner was approved by the city council and cost the city $25,000.

As nearly 30,000 vehicles a day pass through this intersection, the structure will be hard to miss.

“I wanted something that would stick out within that intersection, but act as a visual anchor for everything that's happening there,” artist Aaron Stephan said.

Portland artist Aaron Stephan designed the street lamp structure.

The new public art, "luminous arbor," is now planted at Woodford’s Corner.

The five-way intersection was recently redesigned to re-align lanes of traffic, add bike lanes, and wider sidewalks.

“For me it's a really interesting location, it's where a lot of neighborhoods meet and we're really trying to define that site as the center of a neighborhood,” Stephan said.

According to meeting minutes, the city council approved the $25,000, taxpayer funded-project in June 2016, after a proposal and recommendation from the city's public art committee.

The artist expected reaction to the unique piece to be mixed.

“Anytime you make some people will like it; some people not, for me it's much more important to create some sort of dialog to have a conversation with the community and instigate a thoughtful conversation,” Stephan said.

City officials stand by the decision.

“In an $8 million project, I think putting $25,000 into public art to improve the streetscape is pretty minor,” Planning & Urban Development Director Jeff Levine said.

The art will be turned on, and there will be a "tree lighting" ceremony two weeks from Thursday.

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