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Joy Jasinek | The story behind the Hugs Welcomed sculpture

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Gazing at Leon White’s tranquil sculpture, “A Soothing Melody, ”which rests in the window at First Street and Wenatchee Avenue, we are soothed. Cradling a tiny bronze bird, the figure sculpted from stone conveys softness and tenderness, and invites us to share these feelings of comfort.

This invitation is even more direct in White’s sculpture, “Hugs Welcomed.” This sweet kitty on the Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail beckons us to touch. And we can’t resist! The beauty of stone is that it can withstand the caresses of the many small hands which are so often cautioned NOT to touch!

Of the four sculptures of White’s in Wenatchee, these two were created by the interplay of art and nature, with nature taking the lead by suggesting the figure to be carved. As Michelangelo described the process, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” White explains his method in similar terms in the following piece.

“In my 28 years of stone sculpting, I have yet to purchase a squared stone and most likely will not. I do not come up with an idea and then sculpt it from a block. My ideas come from the natural shape and colors of each stone, whether I find a stone or purchase one from a stone vendor. Yes, there are vendors that seek quality and unusual stones from around the world for the sculpting trade. But, ouch … we pay by the pound!

“Most of my stone sculptures are medium-sized, such as “A Soothing Melody,” or smaller indoor pieces. But the one I would like to talk about is the large sculpture, “Hugs Welcomed.”

“I noticed this large, pear-shaped, granite stone half-buried in a nearby field. Looking it over, what came to mind was a BIG FAT CAT.”

You can see other sculptures of Mr. White’s around town. “Miracle Grow Series” is located at the First Street entrance to Riverfront Park. “The Night Watchman, Bronze Edition,” is on Mission, across from the museum.

White is a fulltime painter and sculptor from Seattle.

Joy Jasinek writes a monthly column about sculptures that are part of the Art on the Avenues project in the Wenatchee Valley. She can be reached at