Visual

Cultural Contributions

A big unveiling at Riverwalk Park

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

On a drizzly Saturday last April, a rapt audience sheltered under tents and umbrellas on Mount Vernon’s new Riverwalk Park, where at last, flood-defense measures have been put into place and the community can enjoy farmers markets and other gatherings. 

Attorney Joe Bowen was one of the speakers. He told how his ancestors met their relatives and friends from other tribes here—at that time the site of a massive logjam in the Skagit River. The visitors sang and beat drums in their canoes, the locals greeted them with songs and a great picnic. And when the white men arrived, the tribe welcomed them, too, saying, “Thank you for bringing your finest gifts—yourselves.“

The occasion was the unveiling of a new sculpture to honor the native people. “Valley of Our Spirits,” a 20-foot iron tower containing rocks from the river, is adorned with images of fish and animals in stainless steel and colored glass, with an eagle on top looking downtown. Funded by the Mount Vernon Arts Commission, it’s the work of sculptor Milo White, glass artist Lynn McJunkin, and artist Jay Bowen (Joe’s brother) of the Upper Skagit Tribe.

For the Skagit people, it was at last an invitation to contribute to the culture of the community. It’s a “working piece of medicine,” Bowen said. “If you’re having a bad day, come down and stand next to it and be healed.”

Not that tulips aren’t healing. In 2015, the first sculpture to sprout on the Riverwalk was a cheerful bunch of 14-foot-tall metal tulips, the work of David Feri and Jennifer Corio, donated by the Blackburn family.

Esther McLatchy, who was in the audience, was smiling. She’s also done tulips on the largest artwork in the valley—towering just to the north is the 90-foot high Carnation Milk steam stack (the actual painting accomplished by Jose Cardona). And she and Jose were also enlisted to decorate the remaining Carnation tower (150 feet!), in Monroe.

Walking downhill from the new totem pole, you’ll come to the Jasper Gates memorial at Gates and First streets. Tracy Powell carved Gates, the first white settler in Mount Vernon, out of a seven-ton block of granite. He’s shown with his grandson, carrying flowers from their garden. You can keep your Botero statues—Powell is more than his equal, as anyone who has marveled at his “Maiden of Deception Pass” on Rosario Beach will agree.

Now look through the trees and hanging flower baskets behind Jasper Gates at a new mural, designed by Benjamin Swatez and painted by him and “200” helpers in July a year ago, showing Mount Vernon as a “little melting pot.” All the elements of Skagit land and culture are thrown together—ancient forest, railway, bald eagle, wisteria, cows in green pastures, Dutch windmill, harbor seal, heron, spirit fish ascending a river, tulip fields with actual farm workers, Einstein, orcas, the famous Skagit logjam, plus John and Yoko selling strawberries. 

“All of us, every ethnicity, make humanity and make the world beautiful,” is Swatez’s mantra. He’s a kind of wandering saint who has given children and women suffering the trauma of poverty in 20 countries the opportunity to express themselves through art.

As you reach the Skagit Station to catch a train headed north or south, don’t overlook the stunning stained glass in the lobby. “Locomotion,” by Jack Archibald of Camano Island, is an abstract symphony of color and iridescence, evoking movement and “an expectancy of journeys.”  If you’re not too anxious about your own journey, you can even make out the image of a charging locomotive.

For more details, go to http://www.mountvernonwa.gov/101/Arts-Commission

More Visual...
Abstractions
Welcome to the 20th century

We live in a time when all past artistic styles are relevant and flourish. In two Skagit Valley galleries through November, the spirit of 20th century abstraction lives on in the work of the late Joseph Goldberg, of Harrington, Washington, and Amy Carson of La Conner.

Goldberg’s work at…

more »
Art's Alive!
Lighting up La Conner

Whether it’s to catch a cruise to Deception Pass, check out the latest thought-provoking exhibit at the Museum of Northwest Art, or show visitors the lovely locale where world-famous scribe Tom Robbins resides, pretty much any time I visit La Conner I end up wanting to hang around way…

more »
ReMade
From the classroom to the community

Rest assured that the clever culinary products on display for perusal and purchase beginning Fri., Nov. 2 at Ideal will be like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

That’s par for the course where “ReMade” is concerned. As the project between the eclectic downtown Bellingham retail…

more »
Events
Today
Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit County

Free Appliance Pickup

9:00am| Bellingham and Ferndale

Parkinson's Dance Class

10:00am|Ballet Bellingham

Hattie Strother Chapter 1514 Meeting

12:30pm|Pickett House Museum

Teen Tech Tutors

4:00pm|Burlington Public Library

Home for the Holidays

5:00pm|Ferndale Events Center

Jazz Jam

5:30pm|Illuminati Brewing

Pub Run

6:00pm|Illuminati Brewing

Bistro Classics

6:30pm|Cordata Community Food Co-op

An Evening with Anne Lamott

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

You Can't Take It With You

7:00pm|BHS Performing Arts Center

Bhutan Travelogue

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

An evening with Anne Lamott

7:00pm

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

The Devil's Slide

7:00pm|Van Zandt Community Hall

Vaudevillingham

7:00pm|Cirque Lab

9 to 5, the Musical

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

Seven Supermans

7:30pm|Heiner Theatre

Waiting for Godot

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Trove Web
Tomorrow
Home for the Holidays

5:00pm|Ferndale Events Center

You Can't Take It With You

7:00pm|BHS Performing Arts Center

Seven Supermans

7:30pm|Heiner Theatre

Waiting for Godot

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

9 to 5, the Musical

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

Wild Things

9:30am|Cornwall Park

Where science meets winter

10:00am

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|Bellingham Public Market

Books and Bites

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Peace Builder Awards Gala

5:00pm|Settlemyer Family Hall

Novmeber Knockout

5:00pm|Lynden Skateway

Rising Reception

6:00pm|Fourth Corner Frames & Gallery

Family Story Night

6:00pm|Blaine Library

Incognito Thanksgiving

6:00pm|Ciao Thyme

Gratitude Stew

6:30pm|Peter James Studio

Romeo and Juliet

7:00pm|Sehome High School Little Theatre

Desert Journey

7:00pm|Village Books

Kuinka

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Western Symphony Orchestra

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

A Chorus Line

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

A Chorus Line

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Secret Agents, LOL-apalooza

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

You can go home again

8:00pm

Peace Portal Podcast Anniversary Party

9:00pm|Studio B

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Seattle Comedy
Saturday
Home for the Holidays

5:00pm|Ferndale Events Center

You Can't Take It With You

7:00pm|BHS Performing Arts Center

9 to 5, the Musical

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

Waiting for Godot

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Seven Supermans

7:30pm|Heiner Theatre

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|Bellingham Public Market

Romeo and Juliet

7:00pm|Sehome High School Little Theatre

A Chorus Line

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Secret Agents, LOL-apalooza

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

A Chorus Line

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Gardenview Montessori Holiday Bazaar

9:00am|Gardenview Montessori

Christmas in the Woods Open House

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Turkey Trot with GBRC

9:00am|Squalicum Creek Park

NSEA Work Party

9:00am|Willow Creek

South Fork Winterfest

10:00am|Van Zandt Community Hall

Rexville Grange Holiday Art Show

10:00am|Rexville Grange

Holiday at the Port Farmers Market

10:00am|Port Transit Shed

Stuff the Trunk

10:00am|Haggen stores

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am| Depot Market Square

Poetry Workshops

10:00am|Mindport Exhibits

Anything Goes Arts and Crafts

10:30am|Sumas Library

Gnocchi Class

11:00am|Christianson's Nursery

Wine and Shop Weekend

11:00am|Eagle Haven Winery

Needle Felting Workshop

1:00pm|Skagit City School

Coffee and Conversation with Surge Artists

1:30pm|Museum of Northwest Art

A Local Treasure

2:00pm|Ferndale Library

Fishboy Holiday Show

2:00pm|FishBoy Gallery

Beatles Sing-Along and Jam

2:00pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship

Pacific NW Insects

4:00pm|Village Books

Welcome to the 20th century

4:00pm

Skagit Wine & Beer Festival

4:00pm|Eaglemont Golf Club

Last Call Group Reading

7:00pm|Village Books

A Light in the Darkness

7:00pm|Church of the Assumption

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Sacred Heart Social Hall

Seattle International Comedy Competition

8:00pm

Childsplay

8:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

see our complete calendar »

Capital Steps Trove Web Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Seattle Comedy Village Books