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

Element Music Festival
More Visual...
Summer Sights
Treasures in Lynden

What did the Hagia Sophia of Constantinople look like in the year 537? 

You’ll have to make your way to Lynden and Jansen Art Center’s “Summer Juried Exhibit” to find out.

Eric Chauvin devoted two years to portraying a remarkable likeness of the Byzantine church as it must have…

more »
Crawl and Stomp
A neighborly approach to art

What are you doing Saturday afternoon?

If you’re not busy, I’d like to take this opportunity to invite you to my backyard, which for one day only will be transformed into an art gallery, multi-neighbor yard sale and chicken-viewing station.

I won’t be alone. Thanks to organizer and…

more »
Behind the Scenes
Registrars to the rescue

What do La Conner’s Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum, Skagit County Historical Museum, and the Sedro-Woolley Museum all have in common?

Other than being institutions dedicated to combining history with interesting things to look at and think about, the trio of community spaces…

more »
Events
Today
Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Bard on the Beach

12:30pm|Vanier Park

Open Air Summer Rep

7:30pm|Maritime Heritage Park

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Shades of the Northwest Quilt Show

10:00am|Cascade Middle School

Shrek the Musical

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Skagit Valley Highland Games

9:00am|Edgewater Park

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

State Street History Tour

1:30pm|Depot Market Square

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Sedro-Woolley Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Skagit Casino Resort Car Show

9:00am|Skagit Casino Resort

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Edison Farmers Market

10:00am|Edison Granary

Langar in Lynden

11:00am|Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Ferry Boat Contra Dance

12:30pm|Anacortes Ferry Terminal

Skagit City School Picnic

1:00pm|Skagit City School

MBT Community Pre-Sale Party

2:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Fiddlin' Fox Summer Concerts

2:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Trivia Time

3:30pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Trivia Time

3:30pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Vaudevillingham

7:00pm|Cirque Lab

Festival of Music Concert

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

Trove Web
Tomorrow
Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Bard on the Beach

12:30pm|Vanier Park

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Missoula Children's Theatre

10:00am|Mount Baker Theatre

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Kids Can Cook

11:00am|Community Food Co-op

Lit Camp

1:00pm|Village Books

Lit Camp

1:00pm|Village Books

Plant Diagnostic Clinics

5:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Cuban Salsa

6:00pm|Bell Tower Studios

Ferndale Cookbook Club

6:30pm|Ferndale Library

Guffawingham

9:00pm|Firefly Lounge

Trove Web Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Tuesday
Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:30pm|Vanier Park

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Tuesday Evening Free Paddles

4:30pm|Community Boating Center

Free Paddles

4:30pm|Community Boating Center

Trove Bingo

5:00pm|Trove Coffee

Kayak Camping Basics

6:00pm|REI

Artist Demo

6:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

BIFT

6:00pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Sunset History Cruise

6:30pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Luscious Lemons

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Books on Tap

7:00pm|Josh VanderYacht Memorial Park

Comedy Open Mic

7:30pm|Shakedown

see our complete calendar »

2018 Cascadia Kids Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books Trove Web