Time for Art

Bellingham sundial mural project


What: Bellingham Sundial Mural Project Gallery Party

When: 6 pm Fri., Jun. 1

Where: HappyChap Creative Co., 1215 Cornwall Ave.


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Where some people see blank spaces, Sasch Stephens is apt to visualize sundials, at least if the area of reference he’s looking at is south-facing and can aptly trace the passage of time.

This was the case when Stephens, a solar energy consultant for NW Sunworks and gnomonist—that’s “professional sundialist” for those who aren’t familiar with the sunny side of the street—happened upon the large wall housing Ciao Thyme on Flora and Unity streets in downtown Bellingham.

Not long after obtaining permission from the building owners in early 2017, NW Sunworks decided to seek out an artist who could help bring Stephens’ dreams of an outdoor sundial mural to life. The finished product of the Bellingham Sundial Mural Project, he envisioned, would not only be comprised of a working sundial calculated to the finest degrees of longitude and latitude, it would also be an eye-catching public artwork.

A resulting design proposal called for artists, muralists and sundialists from around the globe to submit their ideas, with the winning design receiving a $5,000 award. After a panel of jurors reviewed the 27 submissions that came in from 11 different countries, they ultimately circled back to Bellingham by choosing Gretchen Leggitt, a local artist whose vibrant paintings already grace the exterior of the restaurant Hundred North, Kombucha Town’s Culture Cafe, and Vital Climbing Gym.

Leggitt’s proposal, “Savor the Gifts of This Hour,” draws from one of the most scenic vistas in Whatcom County. Mount Baker rises above an expanse of green fields and a technicolor river, and a setting sun brings each element of the image to life. Clouds painted an otherworldly orange and yellow seem to float off the side of the building.

“The mural’s warm, timeless color scheme will emblazon the south-facing wall of Ciao Thyme,” organizers say, “reminding the viewers of the power and beauty of our region’s golden hours and encouraging mindfulness of the celestial movements in the heavens.”

To add to the elemental energy, metal artist Aaron Loveitt will be creating and welding the gnomon—the piece that will cast its shadow on the mural to tell time.

Almost a year after the call for submissions, the project is ready to move forward. That’s where you come in. As fiscal sponsor, Allied Arts is helping collect funds to complete the mural—meaning your donations will be tax deductible—and organizers are hopeful painting will begin at the end of June. 

From 6-10pm Fri., June 1, those interested in seeing the Bellingham Sundial Mural Project come to life can drop by Happy Chap Creative Co. during the downtown Art Walk to talk to the creative minds behind the designs. Artwork by Leggitt, sundial installations by Stephens, and renderings will be on display, and prizes will be raffled off throughout the night. (Donations will also be accepted.)

If you’re curious as to where else Stephens sees sundials—whether they be on mountaintops, in his own backyard, or adorning other blank spaces begging for creative connections—this will be the time to ask him.

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